Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dancer's Responding to Aids

When I think about all the diseases that are out there in the world, there is one that rings clear in my head. AIDS. We have been dealing with the issues of this disease since the 1980's, and even before that, but the disease was not documented until the 80's in the United States. When I watched Danny Tidwell's solo called "The Eternal Vow," performed at dancers responding to AIDS, I saw a man dealing with the effect of AIDS.

When the dance first starts Danny is facing away from the audience, as if he were ashamed. He then begins to walk forward and does a movement initiated from his torso or (inside of him), as if to show the disease is in there talking over his body. Throughout the dance he does a lot of movement with his palms facing up and his arms shooting out, as if to say "why me?, why did I get this disease?"

There are specific times in the dance where I feel his struggle with AIDS, and he makes them very clear. At 1:14 in the dance he starts to loose control of his body like something (the disease) is taking over. He begins to sway and stager around the stage and then he does a jump and lands on the ground. He then crawls on his hands and knees and it looks like he can barely hold himself up. This is one of the most influential parts of the dance because it shows that the disease is taking over his body.

Then he begins to roll and he kind of hits this position facing the sky and his arms are kind of bent reaching towards the sky, and his legs are extended to the sky with his feet pointed. He does this flutter thing with his hand towards the sky as if asking God or his God for help, or asking him why.

This dance had a huge impact on me because I am an out gay man, and I struggle with the fear of contracting AIDS.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thrown in the Mix

When I arrived at Towson I had never more excited about something. Then the excitement increased along with the nerves. I arrived at the company meeting and was told that I was going to be an understudy for the Alvin Ailey pieces they were presenting at the spring concert.

"Ummmm, WHAT!?" I thought in my head. Theses people have been practicing these dances since November and I'm being thrown in at the drop of the pin.

I learned the pieces, never expecting to actually have to do them.

I remember the day before we had our school showing, where all the students are invited for a lower price. As I hear a scream from outside the dressing room, and I run out and Will, a guy in the dance company, is on the ground and his toe is gushing blood. The first thing that rushes to my mind is "Oh My GOD, I have never learned his part.

Thursday rolls around and Mrs. Linda's words ring in my ears, "Lance, it's time to step up."

I remember feeling extremely nauseous during warm up, the room felt cold and I was scared out of my wits. I was back stage sweating bullets as the intro music was playing. The curtain rose and I have never felt like a curtain rose slower in my life.

I started the movement which was slow controlled walk at a diagonal. Even though it was a simple movement it was very important. I was heading for the train and I had to act as if I were missing it.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pushing excellence

As I turn over and slam my hand down on my blaring alarm clock, I take a look outside at what looks to be a pretty day. I swing my legs around to stand up and head to the shower, but it doesn't go according to plan. I collapse to the ground and wonder why I can't seem to walk even two steps.

"Oh yea, I had Susie, Runqiao, and LD last Friday."

The fact that I am in so pain is not a bad thing. It only means that my body is getting stronger. So as I stumble to the shower and take a quick one, so that I can get to Susie's class and warm-up. After I get out of the shower, I get ready and I grab my ballet shoes and I am out the door.

I arrive at the Center for the Arts around 10:40-ish and book it up the stairs. There is nothing littler then the amount of time a dance major has between classes. I grab a water and a bagel, pay, and then its back down those three flights of stairs. I literally scarf down the bagel, drink a little bit of water, and head in.

When I enter I look around and I don't see classmates, I see a family. Being in the Towson Dance department is like being in a big family, everyone knows everyone and we all get along (sometimes), I mean families fight too? Right?

I grab my ballet shoes, just then I hear the door open and in walks Susan Mann (Susie for short). I didn't get time to warm up but I know Susan's barre work will be just enough to get me fully warm. We get through the barre and it's time for center work, which I love. Susan always accommodates to the boys when she has them in her class, and she gets pretty intense about our work. She gives us this one combination and stresses the fact of height, and how men in ballet always need a lot of height.

Step back, developpe, glissade, assemble battu,  sissone, pas de bourree, glissade, assemble batu, pique arabesque, chasse, grand jete en tournent. I got the combination right away, but when the boys were done Susan was not satisfied, and you know she isn't satisfied because she gets really intense about things. She told the boys including me that we need to use our plie, that plie will save us. Also that we need more height...ON EVERYTHING. The assemble batu's need to be higher and the grand jete en tournent needs to peek right at the begginning.

The teacher's don't get on us to be picky, the get on us to be helpful. They care about us and want us to be our best, but also they want us to dance for as long as possible.

The class continues and we wrap up with a reverence. Then it's back up stairs to get another quick snack and then it's back to the dance section of the CFA for another class....