Dance for yourself first no matter your age!
Be the best version of yourself through the expression of movement.
Feel, enjoy, explore, discover and most of all release inhibitions (the natural/organic way) through movement that perhaps otherwise would not be possible.
As we get older there is a stigma that dance is for the young, or pertains to dancers with impeccable bodies, lines and technicality. All of those attributes are a benediction but they don’t last forever. Once upon a time I had a strong physique and technique, but I still have lines! Funny to write this, but now I have noticed other aspects that my body has and offers me. My body and I have developed an interesting relationship since I started this practice based research process. Sometimes I may venture to say ‘riveting.’
We face ageism in a culture where a mature physique, faded technique and injured bodies do not fit the mold to continue dancing. However, dance is for everyone who has the spirit to express and to dare to move. Technical ability and knowledge are great assets for performance but as we get older and our mature bodies go through incredible and sometimes disappointing changes moving our bodies from a different perspective will surprise you, if you dare. Once you begin to think of dance as a form of expression beyond what you think dance is or it may be then you will realize the body can enter a new chapter where exploration of the self and physicality will take you to a new adventure. Through my thesis research working with mature aging bodies as a source for a movement affinity, I have discovered that there is a need out there and a desire to participate in a movement practice that promotes dialogue with the body which makes it a thinking body beyond codified technique. Therefore, the individuals presently working with me in this research have this desire to dance and moving through exploration, questioning, excavation Pilates for body alignment/awareness, balance between flexibility and strength and improvisation prompts have given them an opportunity to feel that great feeling of expressing again. The reality is that the general consensus of the group that I am working with is not to dance in front of audiences (although for some members of the group is a goal); but to engage in a process where internal dialogues and questions for exploration of the self will indeed trigger and open new doors for different movement to emerge (as it has!). Then this emergence of movement is arranged through methods of score, inventory, self portrait through the choreographic cell with the purpose of eventually showcasing the work to inspire others with this movement practice.
If you like to dance and you have hit your 40’s and beyond, think why would you want to dance? What would be the purpose? Would it be curiosity or would it be a way to help you say the words that cannot be spoken but danced?
You may be thinking how do I go about doing this? First I recommend to get to know the why’s, get to know yourself at the present stage of your life, and is dance a desire that you want to fulfill? Think deeper and beyond what the label of dance is and means to you? You may also want to find out in your area if there is a program that can facilitate this type of movement practice that goes beyond moving your hips like in aerobics or Zumba class, no disrespect intended it is just different. This type of movement practice for the mature/aging bodies requires a visceral, subconscious, intuitive, spiritual (for some) observation, rational, esoteric and intellectual approach.
I created this quote back in 2012 "The beauty of a dancer lies in the expressions of the soul."
Martha Graham said, "Out of emotion comes form.”
We all have a story and those stories are filled with all kinds of emotions of joy, kindness, awe, sadness, anger, frustration, disappointment, shame and more. So if you had the opportunity to express your emotions through movement and experience the form of dance again why not defy age and circumstances?
Through practice based research I have found creative ways to modify movement that my body can perform without falling back into injury and still dance. Sometimes this process has not been joyful or a walk in the park, it has been very challenging to develop ideas, to adapt and adopt methods to work with and most of all accept that this mature body can only access what it has available. I would say acceptance of the mature/aging body has been for many of us working in this process the biggest challenge and also humbling. For example, in my last performance for the Daniel Lewis Sampler, and performance of ‘Mother Son(Days) with Pioneer Winter, I modified 60% of the choreography to what I could do with my back injury. There was a section in the second reading by Marie Whitman where I had to fall to the floor, roll, get up suddenly, turn and sustain my body in balance with one leg extended to the front. It may not sound nor read complicated but when you have a back injury, it is! To create that similar dynamic and access movement differently from my body and for the purpose of choreography, if you can picture it in your mind, I had to recreate it with a combination of efforts, and refer to Laban movement analysis.
The shape of my back was elongated more into extension than in flexion and suspended creating an illusion of floating but then transitioned into wringing the movement of my arms and thoracic spine side ways, pressed the movement from the chest as compressing it making it bound and heavy, and then moved into float again where my spine was fighting gravity and I still managed to bring my leg up without falling nor rolling crazy on the floor. Additional, consideration was given to choreutics to maintain spatial harmony with Pioneer and the spoken artists on stage.
Martha Graham self professed goal was to make the interior landscape of our beings visible. For that we need courage but with maturity comes wisdom. Our mature bodies have gone through different facets and one of them must be acceptance of change. I am not saying it is easy, but if you still want to move with a new vision and dance again, it may well be a journey that you will not regret taking.