Laura - Prospect Heights, Illinois
Entered on May 8, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Last fall, I attended a dance concert. It wasn’t just an ordinary dance concert. Instead, it led you backstage, through the basements of production, literally, as pieces were performed in various hallways stuffed with everyday items, practice studios, and vending areas found throughout the concert hall. I was this close to the dancers themselves. They provoked me with their motions and with their faces, but the invisible barrier of knowing that they were artists and I was a member of the audience still seemed to keep us worlds apart. It was like the unattainable beauty of magazine models, the untouchable quality of celebrities, or the hours and hours of refinement prepared in advance to become a musical virtuoso, magician or a star athlete– all of whose skills I feel like I don’t have or worse, could never have. Regarding dance, my sensitivity was even stronger due to the fact that I had never taken a single dance class as a young girl, unlike what felt like every one of my female suburbanite counterparts. I simply felt so uncomfortable. In the light of my terror, however, I knew something was especially beautiful. Maybe it was because I felt like the pieces exposed the raw foundations of performing while still performing: the dark side of the moon, so to speak. I simply didn’t know how to react, so I tried my best not to react at all.

Our tour moved from set to set and reached the final location, with it’s black floor, exposed wings, tree-length ceilings, and open face. I was standing on the main stage. A collection of audience members from earlier tours gazed at me from the seats in the auditorium they had decided to retire to, and interspersed among them were dance performers, ushering, moving, provoking. Improvisational musicians provided the soundtrack to the set as accompaniment to the duet of a man and a woman dancing at my feet. How honored I felt to be sharing the limelight with these artists, and how wonderful it was to be seen in such a space with such spectators! I was in awe.

Before my eyes the duet twisted and twirled and crawled and jumped. Surely, I believed, I had become the performer in my unknowing and brilliant way… They lifted each other and fit into the spaces their own bodies could not fill. This is a test, I thought, a human experiment. They ran like children around me. I began to move as a sign of interest, a simultaneous walk towards the exit, should I fail. The woman encircled me and I looked at her, not simply as a traditional spectator would, but in the same daring way the other dancers had shown me just twenty minutes earlier. She returned with a playful, daring stare, and broke the Fourth Wall with a touch on my head. I became a dancer.

Last fall, I attended a dance concert. It wasn’t just an ordinary dance concert. Instead, it led me to realize the creativity in me: if I allow the mind to follow the spirit when it moves to express, and the body will become it’s shadow.