Thursday, October 28, 2010

dancing sexy

I rarely feel sexy when dancing.

I think this is a function of the supreme introspection required by practice.

I feel abandon, intellect, passion, frustration, and that particularly satisfying high that comes from dragging something from the cloudy, foggy, slippery cavities of my head to the hard and sharp counters of existence. But rarely, hardly ever that cranked up blast of invitation that focuses all efforts to a blazing spotlight turned on someone else.

Which is just funny to consider when thinking about all the things that I mean to say, but don't, and all the things I don't mean to say, but do.

For instance:
Yesterday, we danced some phrases while our actress read "This Condition" by Lydia Davis. "This Condition" is a story entirely contained in one extremely long sentence. It's a list of things, mostly mundane, and if taken bit by bit, they are not particularly sexy. But when they're allowed to collect, they become (like magic) strangely, outrageously, and hilariously so. They become the kind of story that might be uncomfortable for reading aloud. You are unavoidably talking about sex, even though you're really talking about hands searching in purses, things shaped like Florida, and snails. Dancing to it, you're inevitably reflecting the words, even if you're thinking about something else. Reaching up and touching an ear lobe, or pressing a finger against a nose suddenly says one thing instead of another.

Even if I dance exactly the same way that I would to a piece of classical music, anyone who is watching is going to fill it in with something else.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

wrong shoes

There's this really weird feeling that I get when I learn choreography that was created on someone with a completely different habit of moving. It's like I'm trying to fit myself into someone else's skin, and it's all tight in the strangest places, and has residual demands for nuances I would never notice, choices I would never make. Dragging and getting dragged at the same time. Everything feels like it's the wrong size.

And then it's all subsumed by familiarity. Practice sands it down to fit onto my body, to indulge all my habits, tics, and velocities; and it feels so much less like I've got my shirt on the wrong way and my shoes on the wrong feet.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

hey there, I'm the new kid

This is always how I feel on the first day of a new job. It is even more odd when the new job involves dancing. Hello, I say, I am new. You all might have it down. You know each other's names and heights and idiosyncrasies. You go fast and you go slow, and maybe you, holy cow, have got the greatest jump that I have ever seen.

It's a very steep curve to climb up, sometimes. So much choreography to learn; so much shorthand to acquire. The inside joke among groups of dancers is always tricky to understand because at least half of it is mime.

I like it though. I love working with people who I know so well that I've got at least a faint map of the interior of their minds, but the fizz that comes from something new makes me want to skip, at least, whenever I'm not afflicted with the need to flail.

Today was my first day of rehearsal with Liss Fain Dance (for those of you who are keeping score, this is New Job #2 out of two, which makes it Hat #4 out of a possible five). The project is a piece called "The False and the True Are One," which will be performed at the beginning of December. It has a number of interesting aspects: the transformation of a theater into a gallery set, the short stories of Lydia Davis, new music, and the always fascinating element of an audience released from their seats and set free to wander among the work. It's a new piece though, and since this was my first day, I can't say anything intelligent about the actual work, except that I am now very tired.

My friend, the wonderful Penelope, works in the kitchen of Station 1, a new restaurant in Woodside, doing chef things. She is, quite simply, a goddess of kitchens, and can make lemon bars that will change your life. She also sometimes contributes to a food blog and has just shared a recipe for grilled flatbread.

Another friend, the brilliant Damien, wrote about organizing a literacy festival in Leicester, England (which is a charming city; I must remember to write about their Roman ruins and museum... It was like school dioramas except with realio and trulio authentic antiquities) and about his belief in the value of reading. Inspiring stuff.

And the ever magnificent Kat posted an excerpt from a story that I really can't wait to read about a girl and King Arthur and the strangeness of scholarship.

Aaaand... You really need to keep an eye on Project Thrust, which is my friend Malinda's new(-ish) company. Malinda's choreography will make you laugh so hard that you won't be able to keep your eyes open, but you won't want to close them either because you'll be afraid of missing something of genius. You may also cry and definitely think.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010

in which I begin to put on many hats

This fall I will be wearing some new (metaphorical) hats.
Hat the First:
Today was my first day of training at Booksmith, a very charming, very sharp little bookstore in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. I'll be working there a couple evenings a week. I'm still not terribly familiar with the store, but I do know some of the people who work there, and they are absolutely fantastic. Oh, they also have an impressive music section and some very tantalizing art books.

Hat the Second:
In about a week I'll start working with Liss Fain Dance for a show in December. This is the company that Shan dances for, so I'm really excited to work with her. It's been ages since we've danced together, but we're slowly and vaguely thinking about doing some of our own dance projects, so it will be good to work together in the studio under the guidance of someone else to sort of rev our brains up. I like all the other dancers and am looking forward to the particular kind of focus that goes into preparing for a show.

Hat the Third:
Even though Monday is my last day on the floor there, I'll still be doing the editorial/marketing work that I do for Kepler's (I will not miss the commute!). It pacifies the vague desires I have now and again to get into either publishing or journalism. Sometimes it makes them much more ravenous. In any case, it's satisfying and mostly fun and I get to conduct interviews with wonderful writers. My next victims are Michael Krasny and Harold McGee.

Hat the Fourth:
I am now, officially, "Project Manager, Marketing" for the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. This makes me incredibly happy because the Conservatory is an organization that I believe in, with all my heart, because the people who make up its bones are both some of the best artists and best human beings who I've ever met. We also just got a brand new office. I have a desk! And a Mac!

Hat the Fifth:
While I was in London, I met the lovely Neil for tea. At some point he said, as he always does, "And have you been writing, young Megan?" And I said, "Oh yes. Short stories and things. But, you know, I think I want to write a novel." And since I've been having the ideas and the desire for some months, and since there's no better encouragement for jumping off a (figurative) cliff than having articulated the desire to do so to someone who you both admire and look up to...

So. I will be busy. My work load is rather larger than it was before, but (theoretically) it's also arranged so I have a much more normal schedule. And that, I think, will be rather refreshing.

I like having full time, and I like having heavy time. I like time that's stuffed and time pulled so thin it might cut you with its edges.

I also like this poem. It doesn't really have anything to do with time, except maybe for being about one way you might like to spend it. Or how you've spent it.