Tag Archives: dance

HELLO, IT’S ME.

Before you say anything at all: yes, I know, that joke is going to feel so old and tired in about one more week. And yet! I cannot resist. Even the non-dads among us can, shamelessly and tirelessly, make dad jokes.

Anyway: I’m here now.

I’m in this place where I’m not writing as often, here, on my beloved blog.

Instead, my creative energies are dispersed in other places, but it’s not a 1-for-1 substitution – not really. Rather, like my friend Omar asked this week, the collective question seems to be: are we still doing this? Blogging?

I’m scared of self-branding, always have been, so I admit that it’s been freeing to walk away. Like, take that, BLOG! I am rebelling! Next thing you know, I might skip Tweeting for a week. Or delete Instagram from my phone. Who knows! I’m living on the fucking edge.

But I confess, Reader: I miss this.

Not “blogging,” per se. Writing. Writing for moi.

Is there a difference? Maybe. At some point, blogs became precursors to businesses, and you know what? That was great. Blogs helped a lot of us find jobs, and I am no exception. So thank you, blogging, and even a sheepish thanks to you, branding, you wiley mistress.

Sometimes, when I’m in the mood for long form, I dip back into the well of my favorite online writers: Sarah Hepola, Ruth Pennebaker, Omar, Mary Miller. Weirdly, I know all of these people, so reading them gives me inspiration, not to mention a little voyeuristic thrill. It’s like, you thought those things, friend? You shooed everyone away, closed the door, and thought up those beautiful things?

Writing is such an intensely private act, that reading someone else’s work always feels conspiratorial. Most of the time, anyway. I remember hearing a Real Housewife of New York shriek about a fashion book she wrote “all on my Blackberry!” and it must have pained me enough to sear its own memory. Not that I or any of you should be taking writing advice from the Real Housewives, I’m just saying that it made the whole writing enterprise feel so cheap in the moment that it generated feelings, real feelings that I should probably let go of now. (Though I’d watch my back if I were you, Kelly Bensimon!)

Dance is utterly different, because it has to happen in front of others, unless you are Billy Idol, or perhaps Robyn. Let’s just make it easy and say the rule is, if you have a bleach blonde bouffant, you don’t have to dance in front of other people if you don’t want to. As for the rest of us: we get an audience, whether we like it or not.

That vulnerability – will they mess up? Will their bodies fail them? Will freak injury occur here in front of me? – gives the whole experience a specific frisson that you don’t quite get from writing, and that’s why I’m attracted to it. Dance, I mean.

We’re still in the lazy afterglow of the holidays right now, so while all of my dance stuff is gradually coming back online, it won’t truly feel full-force until about a week and a half from now. Next week, here, I start teaching a splits class, and the week after that, silks is a lot more game-on. Modern, ballet, and jazz (!!) are all in the mix as well, and sometimes I wonder, should I write about those things? Here? I’m inclined to say ‘no,’ that would be boring, because what’s the old saw? ‘Writing about music is like dancing about architecture?’

Maybe I could switch those around and successfully write about dance, while someone else – everyone else, now that I think about it – could dance to music. Did I just blow your mind?

Anyway. Mostly, I wanted to steal this hour (or has it been two?) and check in here, feel what it’s like to write again. Writing, or as Billy would say, writin’, with myself.

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LIFE OF THE BODY, LIFE OF THE MIND

It’s presumptuous I know to “apologize” to a blog and its readers for not posting in a while, as if trajectories of whole lives were thwarted in your absence, as if the earth tilted slightly off its axis, as if something felt generally amiss in the world until somebody looked up and said, “come to think of it, Tolly hasn’t posted in a while!”

Reader, I know this isn’t the case. And still: I’m sorry.

Allow me to explain. See, the creative sands have shifted underneath me, and while I use to be strivey and mentally obsessive in one direction – writing – it’s like all of those energies have moved to my arms and legs and I don’t know how to explain it, exactly. It just is.

What I’m talking about of course is dancing, something I feel sheepish even mentioning because the very term has been co-opted by inspirational posters at the dentist’s office. “Dance as if nobody’s watching!” is terrible advice, I think, if you’re dance training. Another term I feel weird about using, ‘training,’ because that implies a level of rigor I’m not sure I possess. But I want to.

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Photo by the very dear Earl McGehee.

It started in 2011, as readers of this blog will know, when I literally stumbled into aerial silks. Fast-forward to now, had a baby, got back (slowly) on the cloth, and while the cloth is my first love, I’m trying to branch out. Try other apparatuses, like harness and pole, and also fill in the wide gaps of my dance knowledge with the basics, like ballet (intimidating!) and modern (fun! Also intimidating!). I danced a couple years in high school on the dance team, and very sporadically otherwise, but ballet is still basically a foreign language that I’ve got a three year-old’s proficiency in.

I have this theory that any accomplishments I’ve had in life can be chalked up to the fact that I’m a nice person, rather than having native talent or skills. And finally, I’m bumping up against the limits of niceness with dance! Turns out, you can’t be a good dancer simply by being easy to get along with. It’s frustrating and exhilarating and totally engrossing.

So if you wondered at all where I was (“is it just me, or does planet Earth feel OFF?”), I was stretching, port-a-bras-ing, and pole spinning, plus cursing, head-scratching, and (still) stumbling as these arms and legs are coaxed into something like an aesthetic. I still write. I love our podcast to absolute confetti bits. But I’m sharing this with you as a declarative statement of some sort, though it feels more like a confession. I didn’t run off and join the circus. This has been happening in stealth mode. And maybe it still will? I guess my hope is that I can integrate life of the body and life of the mind, by sharing bits and pieces here of what’s happening in the movement department. By the way, THIS is happening.

Isn’t it scary when you admit something out loud, Reader? Something pretty personal? When you go ahead and make yourself emotionally naked on the Internet, of all places? (Cue new SEO compatibility on my blog, linking search terms “naked” and “Internet.”)

Oversharing is a thing, and we should all watch out for it. But I believe emotional nakedness is healthy sometimes. That’s my inspirational poster.

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