April 18, 2012, 08:34 AM posted by Maria Choban
Our fearless leaders in Argentine Tango class have skipped the part about breaking us down and have skipped ahead to rebuilding us into finely tuned dancing machines. We are now covering the aspects of dynamic dance - from passive, through active, into interactive and finally, mischievous.
To my partner I asked "does this feel like I'm back-leading or being co-creative?" and he answered "this is the most fun I've ever had doing this dance! It's magic! I don't feel bored, like I'm trying to come up with all the moves, like I'm just talking with myself." I interpreted his answer as the latter. I answered him "good, because I used to get in trouble all the time on the dance floor for doing this".
I am exhibiting the embodiment of Dylan Thomas' spiral staircase. I feel like I am now where I was a few years ago when I would play with my dance partner, wrest away the lead, be naughty. . . . and get shit for it. The difference is knowing the dynamic stages - passive through mischievous. The difference is having fearless leaders who have rebuilt me. After getting enough flack on the dance floor for over-playing, backleading, I defaulted to passive follow and used my many years of chamber music playing to build ensemble with my partner. But I remained an accompanist versus an equal, co-creating dynamic chamber musician. I learned from our fearless leaders that the dynamic aspect comes from the chest. This finally sunk in after Wednesday's dance when the tautness of my body married with the edicts of class - "keep vibrant energy in your chests, follows!"
I learned also from our leaders to listen closely to my dance partner. His body would let me know whether or not he was comfortable with mischief, with co-creating.
It's nice to come back home with more perspective. I am a revolutionary when my instincts are pinging hard, telling me that change is necessary. Sometimes I come in on the rather late end, as with the waning environment of Classical Music. Sometimes I come in at a peak, when everything looks hunky-dory, as with Argentine Tango. I am reminded of Steve Jobs. He was asked to do market research and he answered something like "it's up to us to let the market know what they want via our products". When I sensitively co-create I notice how relieved, energized my partners are. They're ready for a new market of follows. I'm ready for that market of co-creating leads.
In Classical Music I am looking at a revolution where the insecure, snob, engineer-dominated (missing the big picture for all the minutiae), intimidating mindset is - if not eradicated - such a small percentage of the whole that we no longer think of classical music in terms of diva/conductor egos. That we think of it in terms of the Mattie Kaisers (28 year old dynamo founder of 5 year old ClassicalRevolutionPDX - which means she was 23 when she founded it), the Christa Wessels (the most dynamic, ebullient, personality-charged voice in Classical Music radio), the David Bernsteins (founder of Cascadia Composers - retired 70 year old dynamo who's vibrant organization is in it's 4th year putting on a kazzillion concerts each year, eclectic as hell, nearly everything a debut, nearly 70 members strong!) . It'll happen.
The big battles won't be fought in NY. NY is now exhibiting the "defend your lead"-isms of a barely winning football team, a small town mentality. Too entrenched to let go. Too parochial to be visionary. It has drawn too many "wanna be famous" and not enough "wanna do something different"s. I am amazed at the FaceBook postings coming out of NY. Who knew it was so small, so married to a vocabulary not of the people, the potential prospective audience? I am amazed at Alex Ross' review of the Met's new staging of The Ring cycle. I predict the big battles will be fought and won in the pacific NW, still an ivory tower in its openness, but certainly (hopefully) the harbinger of the future.
I had lunch yesterday with a dear young 23 year old friend, here from New York for a week. We discussed the issue above. He's a struggling composer, singer/songwriter, play-write, director, actor. He provided the missing link: NY is too expensive to try new stuff. Creatives will migrate to places where they can afford to indulge in their creativity.
Here's to the Pacific NW, to Revolution and Revolutionaries, to our Fearless Leaders who make positive change possible!
Posted By Ann van Bever on April 18, 2012, 01:44 PM
I always enjoy reading what you have to say. And I think you are on to something!
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