Last night, Jill and I sat talking about being an aerialist versus being a dancer. The anatomy of aerial. The shortening and lengthening of lines… What is holding oneself in space? I mean, what is it to the body? And holding oneself up on the floor? What is release technique in the air? What is lifting off the ground? She showed me old videos of herself from before she was an aerialist, and I saw myself in the way she moved then, as now… sameness walks ahead of us so often.
She said to me, “I need to dance like this again.”
These inquiries are what make the process interesting to us, I think. Infusing aerial technique with a dancer’s awareness.
But it doesn’t feel the same. Your body changes and adapts to aerial and you can’t change it back. In dancing, lines are long, spirals are recognized, initiations are fulfilled. Defying the laws of physics and fighting gravity… feels like physical deception. Sometimes. Where are my spirals then? My center is shortened– higher. My arms are never easy, my fingers always curl, sending energy back in to my hands instead of out beyond. The look of ease is just a look. The work of suspension is more than that of standing, because it has to be. Because the shoulders aren’t connected bone to bone the way the pelvis is. It’s not metaphysical. Just plain physical.
But what if, as we hang and lift, the spirals simply shift– into the palms then into the apparatus? What if we yield our energy up instead of down? What if the “ballet spaces” are widened by gravity when we are hanging– there’s no floor to stop expansion, after all. What if the work is not what we focus on, but the feeling of height, large-ness, being able to reach energy up and down much further into space than when we had the floor to fall into? Then make gestures as poignant as those we made while standing– choreograph with twists that twist “up into” instead of “down into”, with gestures that happen in our feet, which are free… Articulate the same thoughts in different physical places. Then, being in the air becomes less confining — not an obstruction to movement, just a place of different abilities.
I think of this when I’m on the floor.
Now, if I could only think of being on the floor when I’m on the floor, like everyone else… now that would be something.