In a taxi, as on an elevator. Stuck together, going the same way. You can or cannot talk but you can’t move while you both move. Both keeping an eye on the movement markers ticking away. The driver has a stuffed animal dog on a pillow on her dashboard. Does she have a dog at home? No. Such intimacy shared yet no names exchanged. Nothing left but money and advice. Here we are. A place to connect.
You start arriving as soon as you take the first step. I realize when I walk up to the theater that this is where I always wanted to be when I dreamed of growing up. Now I am too old to be of here, but as I walk around to the entrance of the Teatro Lliure, my back straightens, my feet grip the floor, my arms swing, casually I can look the part. Right here, right now, I do belong.
I will dance where real dancers practice. This hallowed space where they make the intangible visible. Souls are waiting, hoping, counting on them. But us, we here now, can only help ourselves.
Fifty of us make our way in, pretending not to check each other out. How will this workshop bring us together or keep us apart? I see a complicated mix. I love to come to this practice where all ages, all body sizes, all levels, all mindsets are welcome. As long as they are ready to flow.
There are those who are hard to define, with half-smiles, clear eyes, humming feet- instruments of the oncoming path. My eyes seek them out, they will be my reference points during the journey. They are the ones who will keep me from thinking, who will inspire me to keep chasing around my body until I can finally pounce on the rampaging critic, tie him up tight and pin him to the shadow at my feet, allowing the light to seep unfiltered into my pores, into my veins, up through my spine like a night highway, and out through my ears like a lighthouse.
If I’m lucky, I will arrive radiating. And though the last step will bring me back to where I started, I will be that much higher on the spiral, that much further out or in, or at least further from or closer to that self dragged by space, looking for time, doing doing doing. But for now I can just be be be. And what can we bear. And how. When the waves come bearing down, how will we ride them?
Bodies are littered across the rubbery floor, stretching randomly. The first rhythm starts. A voice opens the gates. Flow.
Finding our feet, birthing our awareness to this space, these people, this body, waking these feet that go and go and touch us to the earth, connect us to the floor like magnets or we would float, pushing, lifting, landing, forwards and back, side to side, wide sweeps as the rhythm coaxes, the melody loosens, the hips undulate to the rippling bass, as I swim through dancers, float backwards, dive forwards again and round and around, drowning in thoughts, resurfacing to breath in emptiness, roll, skin my knees, fear, feel the sea of energy rising, pouring into our matrix.
Then, just when the stretching and the softening begins to loosen us up to the pleasure of being graceful, the second rhythm hits. Staccato.
Shapes. Angles. Percussive. Pound. Respond. Shield. Blink. Search. Play. This way. That way. Down. Hard. Up. Soft. Trust. Stare. 90. 30. 45. 180. 360. You. Me. Us. Them. Sweat. Stink. Chest. Hips. Heart. Pulse. On. Off. Forward. Stop. Back. Go. Don’t. Know. Don’t. Care. Love. Anger. Hesitate. Hate. Laugh. Shouts: “Breathe! Breathe! Breathe!” Go. Go. Go. Go. And 3. 2. 1.
Zero. Chaos breaks comes jumbles through the gates, he’s there, they’re wizards, monkeys, snakes who slither, hop, whip hair, lost heads zip up seaweed jungles of thoughts dried up chickpeas rattling in brain will get bingo bongo freaky outy, eyes without goals, angrily fuck the air, hold the space captive, smell deep long beaked birds break out calling voices touching fingers closing eyes vibrations see through us.
“We are all meant to be dangerous,” the voice shouts out. He is powerful, sleek, full of electric breath. His body hypnotizes us, our twin zombies. Released, we land into ourselves and explode with the joy of recognition. Aahhhh, THIS is where I was! Promise, don’t hide again. Be quiet, keep dancing if you want me to stay. I’m here.
The fourth rhythm massages itself into our bodies- lyrical- making us all feel beautiful.
As we were meant to be.
“Trust your body, it never lies,” unless it wants to. Now it wants to tell the truth, the whole truth to everyone and knows already what everyone knows.
Alive, we leap and turn into clouds. She’s a wind. He’s a flower gently opening, She’s a hummingbird, sipping each nectar. He’s a feather, waltzing in currents. She’s a ripple, bursting with widenings. He’s a shore, waiting to be lapped. She’s a me. I’m a loose pebble tumbling through the air.
We are beings discovering our endless frames of being. We commune by dancing. We experience ourselves by moving. We feel ourselves by being still.
And so, in the final rhythm, we slow down, down, down and listen to our echoes. And finally, our heart the engines, our breath the fuel, our bodies the machines, all quiet down. Down. Down. And we drop into the supply.
Evaporated, condensed. The journey is that effort to distill, that peeling of useless layers to reveal, that trusting leap into the unknown known, that evaporation of preconception and condensation of what you didn’t know that you knew.
Or in this case, what you moved that you didn’t move in order to know what you already knew without knowing it. Stillness.
Holding hands, we gather in a circle; only circles will do at this point. We squeeze. Tears, laughter, goodbyes. It doesn’t matter that we separate, we have shared the most important part. When I walk out, the critic is nowhere to be seen, the audience is dancing, the dancers can rest and the theater is just another space.
Outside, the fog lays thick among the trees, as if the universe was still waxing lyrical, a group of graceful elderly practice varying forms of tai chi on the different levels of the tiered park at MontJuïc. I sit to eat some raisins and chocolate, and to watch. I can almost hear the cosmic orchestra overplaying as lovely rosy white pigeons land on my sleeves, on my knees. They pick raisins from my hands.
But then they too leave me when I run out. And it also doesn’t matter. I’m on to the next thing and I’m walking away before I know it.