Saturday, October 1, 2011

Worlds Collide

September sped by and I survived relatively unscathed. Little A's godmother, her partner and my newest goddaughter are now back in chilly Helsinki after a visit to Manila that was all too brief. The big corporate event I was supposed to help organise was postponed because two years and a day after one huge storm hit the city, another came along and caused significant damage to the hotel that was meant to be our event venue.

Part of my duties for this event's coordination included sourcing the evening's entertainment. Dance was the chosen medium for the conference's opening number. As I did wear pointe shoes for a large chunk of my life, no one was more qualified than I to find the perfect performers.

During the search, I realised that despite the many hats most of us now wear, all of my dance colleagues have remained in the industry somehow or another. Once you've gotten it in your blood, you can never be rid of it. My dance friends now run their own schools, choreograph, teach or do related things like costume design, notation or makeup.

Coming back in contact with my local dance friends has, sadly, taken the form of securing them as event entertainment as I've been unable since having Little A to take enough time out to go to the theatre and see a performance. One simple question by the director/choreographer at the recent event meeting made me realise I truly miss this part of myself. Not the glare of the lights nor the sound of applause, but the use of my body to express what words could never adequately convey.

Since giving up professional dance, I've been asked countless times to open a school or teach young children. I don't know that I want to do that yet. Perhaps there's still enough in these tired limbs to get the blood flowing again. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future I can put my shoes on, get back into shape and once more move to beautiful music. Who knows?


Peter S. said...

Hi, Stepford Mum! What does "notation" mean in the context of dance?

Stepford Mum said...

Hi Peter! Gosh, sorry to reply so late on this - I've so remiss in managing this blog lately.

To answer your question, (better late than never!) notation is writing dance steps/movements in a format very like writing music - there are lines and spaces, but instead of the notes, the notation marks correspond to movements of body parts. The top section refers to the head, the next to the arms, legs, feet and so on.

As you can imagine, it's rather more complicated than writing music as there s a symbol for every type of movement for each part of the body. One step may have many symbols. Few people train in this discipline, so qualified ones are in high demand.

My good friend who does this for the English National Ballet is Japanese. She was injured when we were at school so thoughts of a career onstage flew out the window. Heartbreaking as she was incredibly talented, but she made the most of it - reading and writing Japanese characters (her first language) meant dance notation would be easier for her to learn than for most others. She's still doing it to this day :)