320: Dance and “People’s Lives” (Liz Lerman)

                “I believe dance historically was an incredibly major part of the people’s lives. Take a look at what’s happened to dance in most Western countries: what you find is a mirror of fragmentation…You’ve robbed danced of its therapeutic qualities, its community, social qualities…” -dancer/choreographer Liz Lerman, as quoted in Arlene Goldbard’s New Creative Community

                I really like dancing. It also freaks me out; I get so self conscious, so worried that dancing is grace and grace is something other people have and I don’t. A few days ago I was talking with someone about going to an (outdoor) dance here in Illinois. When I said I wanted to, but it scared me, they looked surprised: “But we’ve already danced in my kitchen.”
                In my head that didn’t count. I think there’s a lot of this it didn’t count going around, and there’s a specific kind surrounding the art we do. I was talking to a student a few weeks ago, and she said she loved to dance with her kids. In the kitchen, in the livingroom, to music or to the sound of their feet. She also said she wasn’t a dancer. Dancers got paid for it, or else they’d studied; they knew something. What she does didn’t count. After class she hung back to talk some more. Now that she was looking at her measuring sticks, she didn’t like how she measured. She wanted to sit with them, to sit with more of what she actually did, and to feel out new ways of measuring.
                There are lots of jokes about this floating around online, like the one where an art teacher tells her toddler “I teach people how to draw” and the toddler says, surprised, “They forget?” A few weeks ago, for the first time in a year, I drew something. Before I left California I sat on the floor and played harmonica with my brother. I don’t think I’m asking if I’m a sketch artist or a musician. I’m just wanting to remember that it counts. 

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