Friday, July 2, 2010

choreography and writing

When you think about friends and colleagues, is there someone you enjoy spending time with, never tiring of topics to discuss, but actually share very little in common in terms of life experience? My newest friendship is with a poet and archivist who continually inspires me with his insights and perspective. Although we are both passionate about the arts and teaching, we have little common ground in terms of upbringing and education. Maybe this is what makes our get-togethers so refreshing: we come from divergent places but end up with amazingly similar philosophies and values. His name is Reuben Jackson.

When he talks about poetry I think of choreography. During our first conversation, he talked about teaching writing to students, urging them to “move the furniture around.”

I love this image.

How often have you been writing or making a phrase of movement and you feel yourself forcing the words or actions into a certain relationship? I know too well that urge to impose a particular order on a sentence or phrase – all the while hearing an argument inside the mind/body between “it’s fine like this” and “if you gave this a little more time something incredible could emerge.”

When Reuben expands on this idea, I think of more similarities between writing and choreography: “Writing is a way for you to figure out how you really feel about something. The poem is a negotiation between what you want and what the poem wants. It’s like fish or chicken for dinner. You may think you are having fish, but the poem tells you it will be chicken. I really love this process.”

Another nugget of wisdom: “I see my role as a teacher being like a good personal trainer: you push people beyond their comfort zone.”

When we met a couple days ago I was talking about some reactive responses I had heard from students recently: “I don’t like this” or “that’s boring.” Again he had a great line: “If there’s an enemy of poetry it’s impatience.”

Maybe the same is true for dance? Is patience a crucial ingredient for both dance-makers and dance-watchers?

1 comment:

  1. that is a great question! I tell you what... I do think that "impatience" likely stands in the way of truly receiving, or opening yourself to the experience. And how can you truly judge or truly know something you haven't fully received? -Kimmie Dobbs Chan