Music: “Life-Bound Friend” – Ayla Nereo
Location: Mt. Tabor, Grandmother Tree
I’ve always held a delight and reverence for nature. My parents took me backpacking as a baby and I’ve never stopped finding myself in those nooks and crannies of the high and forested places of the world. With each new trail, mountain, tree and waterfall, I come back to myself. This is why I love Portland so much. You can take a walk through a neighborhood and end up someplace like this.
I’ve been developing a relationship to this tree in particular since my friend Jamaica first told me about it. I had found it on my own but she dubbed it the “Grandmother Tree”. She’s a living temple, this tree is. A place of holiness absolutely. The messages and visions I’ve received while meditating with her here have informed me in some truly deep ways. The voices of the natural world speak as loudly as any human in possession of language to those who have ears to hear. That’s why I love dancing in Nature; there’s a pulsating sub-current to the music that’s missing in studios or halls that informs the movement just as much if not more.
The architecture of this tree is amazing. I love using the shapes of a setting to create the dance. It’s like the dance is already in the space, just waiting for me to discover it; like Michelangelo and his David. All I have to do is start moving and release the expectation or attachment to it looking a certain way. And in finding architecture that supports my weight, all of the principals I’ve been working with in Cocréa are vitally important and present. Using their stability to create momentum and use resistance make the dance that much more dynamic. This way of working, in which I just show up, press play and choose to exist in whatever location has caught my attention for the given day is a way of being that I never anticipated would be a way of working for me. There are so many spaces and places for us to inhabit and exhibit ourselves; to present our Us-ness.
I feel like there’s an innovation in this work in which I’m choosing to place authenticity on the stage rather than refinement – not to say the two are mutually exclusive. Having come from a theater and performance background, I’m very used to rehearsing a thing until it’s fully in my body, so I no longer have to think about it; I can move and act from a learned awareness – muscle memory – of how things are supposed to look and feel. In this form of creation and presentation I’m doing now, what I have to be aware of and present to is how I’m feeling on the inside, what the music is evoking for me naturally in the present moment, and trust my instincts already embedded within my body’s muscle memory from my training. The end product doesn’t need to earn me any awards. The goal is to get people to feel something along with me. I guess that’s the goal of a lot of art. 😉
It’s a process of shedding vanity for me too. I could put on a lot of costumes (and I have) and do these dances in crazy get ups, or go looking for some, or wear some of my more stylish threads for all of these (and I might and probably will in the future). Today, I had a moment of, “am I really going to put a video of myself out there in my super casual tee and my hang out pants with a hole in the crotch?” Yes. Yes I am. Because what I wear when I do my art shouldn’t necessarily be the focus. Again it all comes down to intention. Each piece in this project is part of the whole. This is just one aspect of bringing more art out into public. And vanity is the last foible we humans tackle in this journey and the most difficult. Trying to get a leg up here. 😉 Hope you enjoyed it! Blessings.
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Blessings and gratitude,