Last Friday, I went with my sister and some friends to see Nederlands Dance Theater, one of the most famous and well-respected contemporary dance companies in the world. We went with high expectations. We wished to be thrilled, impressed, inspired, agog. We desired insensibility dealt by beauty. We wanted theater with capital letters.We wanted the only thing that you should want when you sit yourself down in the dark, velvet cradle, which is to be completely and generously not bored.
The shock of getting a wish granted is infrequent. How does it feel?
It feels affecting enough that you say things you might otherwise be embarrassed to air in ordinary life. Things like, "I know now that I have not yet been in love," which is exactly what one of my friends said while we stood in the lobby afterward, engaged in post-performance dissection. She said it with humor, of course, but not irony.
Art is a tool for understanding the world. It holds it still long enough so we can see it. And if a dance performance can make you understand a little more about something as vast and strange as love, even if you can't explain it, exactly, in words, then that makes the minutes spent (from such a finite store!) on a night at the theater worth it.