I Believe In Expression
When I began my first movement course as a theatre major in the eleventh grade of an arts high school, it was a general consensus among my classmates that this was not what any of us signed up for. I was, at best, uncoordinated and vehemently against any movement that did not transport me from point A to point B. Allowing me pirouettes and grande jetes for two years would be an unnatural disaster of the worst kind. Movement then was what simply happened along unintended during acting. I bumbled through Lysistrata and The Bacchae, dragging my awkward teenage body along behind me as I declared treachery and decried love through every era of theatre. As much as I pushed away from dance class, my dance teacher, Tammy, matched my stubbornness as she continued to push back, contorting the bodies of my classmates to fit those of all creatures ranging from gorillas to amoebas and, eventually, to the personalities and weaknesses of others. We fought tirelessly against each other that year because the point of imitating an amoeba was as lost to me as my disinterest in dance was to her.
I did not recognize the change immediately within myself until I neared my second year in Tammy’s movement class. Beginning my senior year, I began to see that my gestures, as well as my classmates, carried purpose behind them, and my idiosyncrasies executed were not, in fact, mine but those chosen of my characters. Tammy had transformed the fumbling Antigone and made her words soar above recitation and achieve feeling. She continued to push me until my time with her ended, after just as much frustration as discovery, and I left her instruction with a new understanding of the importance of movement. She taught me to create art within the boundaries of my body and to create character through movement. Because of Tammy, I believe in the power of movement and in my ability to create art regardless of boundaries.
Movement creates life wherever it manifests. It communicates, as well as inspires, our feelings, our beliefs, and our being. What I learned from Tammy was expression, the ability to communicate myself as a person and any character I assume, and, through this understanding, personal freedom. I will always be thankful for the woman who illuminated my words through movement and made them soar, and I will always believe in the importance of expression.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.