Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dance for joy

I've never really "gotten" dance the way I get music or drama or film. Stories told by Terpsichore have just never worked for me. And, yes, the "Nutcracker" is very pretty, yes, thank you. I do have a four-year-old who loves princesses and ballerinas.So while I don't get the princessy part what I do get is the dancer as athlete. Which is why I wanted to repost this photograph of the dancer Naiomi Goldberg's battered feet.

Often the price of knowing the truth, or attaining beauty, or achieving mastery in anything, is pain.

And often the pain must be given freely for to attain the true mastery, the true beauty, the requisite suffering must be a gift that does not count the cost.

(h/t to Kevin Rolly, whose image this is)


Lisa said...

I used to dance, and do feel that it harmed my feet. For sure, true ballerinas are not-so-famously known for their terrible feet. But they are sheathed in lovely satin, so one need not see the sacrifice.

Like you, watching dance does not always impress, but I have been deeply moved by simple performances, at times. When the dancer is one with his script, I feel a direct connection -- almost molecular. I have been brought to tears by such passion, even when the movement was not a sad one.

I am not sure why -- perhaps the knowledge of the ephemerality of that moment, of that intimacy, with a former stranger. An appreciation for the gift.

FDChief said...

Lisa: I think that dance is one of those things that either chooses you like a muse, or you come to it as a postulant and stays with you. Most of the true balletomanes and dance lovers I've known had some at least passing acquaintance with the art, so I am not surprised that your early dance training helped you develop a feel for the craft. And I enjoy the grace and athleticism, it's just that I don't have a sense for the storytelling part of it. That aspect remains closed to me; dance just doesn't work as a storytelling medium, and I haven't the knowledge to appreciate the skills as I do similar athletic ability in soccer, or gymnastics.

I have heard that dancers en pointe often have terrible hammertoes, fractures of the metatarsals, lost toenails. But those agonized feet are, as you say, always beneath the gleaming satin and ribbons. The combination of desperate, painful effort disguised as effortlessness, as grace, as beauty? That fascinates me.

And I admire a dancer's suffering to attain mastery his or her art. It must be a Scots thing, this appreciation for the willing attempt at a difficult and probably painful task. Dunno. But I do.

This dancer's feet somehow brought to mind the image of her facing her toe shoes like a woman going out to fight and staring down at the weapons at her feet, or a laborer looking at her heavy work boots in the gray light of dawn, knowing that she must take them up, do what she needs to do and face the pain.

There's some nobility in that, and a lot of humanity, too. And that, for me, is what brings the tears.

Lisa said...

I agree that dance is not the best medium for storytelling. The only times I have been moved by dance were when I was unfamiliar with the piece, and was simply transported. I have felt the same visceral affect from classical music, as well, or bagpipes, in fact :)

I am convinced I am resonating on a very physical level with the movements. It does not seem to be rational, yet the manifestation is emotion.

Agreed: "The combination of desperate, painful effort disguised as effortlessness, as grace, as beauty? That fascinates me." Grace is always humbling, IMHO.

Your final observation is very true. There is nobility in commitment and dedication (to craft.) Integrity and personal excellence. It is the most human endeavor.