Who I am

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I went to a talk today at the university on story-telling and healing. I was expecting something uber-intellectual: any time the word “narrative” is used, things can tend to skew towards the unintelligible. In actuality, the presentation was a great example of getting real. The speaker was very down to earth. She let us connect with her as a person by sharing a some details about her last few days and poking fun at herself several times in the presentation. She was committed to her work and believed in the project (theatre for healing among Aboriginal youth) but didn’t take herself seriously. Her lack of self-consciousness and openness reminded me of an old friend of mine, sending me on a pleasant daydream that ended in plans for a winter vacation to visit.

I reentered the talk to hear more details about the project and see slides of some of the creative movement and games the youth engaged in. During the Q&A afterwards, one audience member (faculty, I think) asked if a particular move shown on her slides had been recreated since. The particular move was a 4-person table with each person leaning back from their knees onto the knees of the next person with their torso. After it popped up on the screen I found myself thinking about the move, wondering how they got into it, wanting to try it but not sure how or when. When the speaker said no, the audience member stood up and suggested we recreate it here. She and two friends got up from the back of the room, and I walked forward to the front as well. I didn’t really think about the audience; I just knew that making a table with my and 3 other bodies was something I had to do, right away. We talked through a method to get into position, got down onto the floor, and lifted up into the table. Did it! Then down, and back to our seats.

Who I am: I am a dancer. I need to do things with my body. It’s instinctive to use my body to experiment with space, shape, knowledge.

I am not who I was as a teenager. Back then you couldn’t drag me onto a dance floor – literally. I was so self-conscious and shy that it crippled me. Now, I’m almost 40. I have a child. I have an education. I really don’t care what people think. And though I don’t know it well enough or instinctively enough, I know I need to speak out and move. I’ll do what I want and need to. And sometimes it won’t be as great as I want it to be, and it will come across as less than what I’d like, but I’m okay with that.

And at the same time: I am also someone who still doesn’t quite fit in. I have a PhD but I’m not a faculty member. I get along well with others but I’m not part of a group or circle of friends on campus. I didn’t care whether people thought it was strange to get up and do acrobatics in front of an audience, but I did care if they thought it was cool.  I wish I didn’t, but it’s true.

But the truest part about who I am is that I knew I had to move. And those few minutes of shape-building with random others were the most invigorating I’ve had in possibly weeks.

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