Friday, February 5, 2010
Alexandra Thomsen Wolfe
I’ve had a few revelations:
On the radio the other day a song by Garth Brooks called “The River” came on. I knew the song, but hadn’t really listened to what the words were saying before and as I listened a phrase struck me. It says, “So don’t you stand upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied, choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide.” I thought about this and whether I’ve led my life on the shore of if I’ve chosen to chance the rapids. And I realized that I am most definitely chancing the rapids in terms of creating a piece for Orchesis. Choreographing this year has been such an eye opening experience and a huge challenge. Until now I don’t think I even realized what a big chance, or risk I was taking. To take my ideas and put them out for the world to scrutinize is a very courageous thing to do. A lot of people would never dream of doing something so bold, they would be too frightened and self-conscious. And to be honest, I was that person all the way up until dress rehearsal of our show. I was terrified, worrying what people would think of my piece and whether it was any good. At every showing I felt like running away and hiding because I was so worked up about my ideas being judged by my peers and my professors. What if it is not good and no one likes it and I look like a complete fool in front of everyone? These thoughts were swimming constantly through my mind. And yet, I chose not to give up or give in. I kept plugging away at my piece with the invaluable help of my dancers who through every rehearsal gave me tiny flutters of inspiration to draw from. I now realize that the fact that I did this, choreographed a dance for Orchesis, is quite impressive. I do have talent and am capable of creating a work of art that is worthy of the stage. It only took me five months to realize it, but at least I now know that I am a creative and artistic individual with a lot to offer.
Another revelation I had came just last night after one of my friends came to see the show. He had never been to a dance concert such as this and was fascinated by everything, especially my piece. He asked me question after question about how you go about choreographing something such as this, how you get everyone who is in your piece to be motivated to perform it, and where ideas for movement come from? He then asked what the meaning of my piece was. I explained to him the concept I had worked with and I could just see in his eyes the awe and wonder of it all. I realized that my piece is no longer about my intentions or what I am trying to say. It has taken on a life of its own that is affecting people in ways I do not even know. And that is the great value of dance: Inspiring people not only through movement, but speaking to people on an intellectual level about a certain concept or idea. My dance has done this in ways I never imagined. My friend was so captivated by the fact that I used my faith as inspiration for my dance piece and that I was putting it out there for everyone to see. I’ve also realized that my piece and story is reaching people I am not acquainted with. My dancers have had friends say how much they enjoyed my piece and after my dancers explained what it is about, they expressed an even greater delight in it. That was so pleasing to hear. Through my dance I am not expecting people to be inspired to have the same faith as I do, but, possibly, people are inspired in some way, shape, or form. Perhaps people will think more about whatever faith it is that they have and to analyze it more closely, really contemplating what it means to them and what role it plays in their life. I love the fact that dance can really promote this type of awareness and instigate new thoughts and ideas to enter one’s mind, whatever the thoughts may be. Before discovering this enlightenment I felt kind of guilty about spending so much time dancing because I felt it wasn’t helping others in a meaningful way or really something that was worthy of so much devotion. I’ve been searching to find what it is about dance that I truly love and why it does have merit and now I have finally found it through choreography.
I had these epiphanies last night and then this morning these ideas were reinforced through none other than the Bible itself. I have a daily inspiration book with quotes from the Bible along with explanations and I hadn’t looked in it for weeks. I finally picked it up this morning and this is what it said for today: “ ‘God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you. 1 Peter 4:10.’ God gives everyone specific abilities and strengths. Sometimes we neglect to use those abilities, or we get in a rut of using them only for ourselves (on a hobby, for example). When we see our abilities as gifts from almighty God, it is humbling to think that he would value us enough to put these gifts within our care. Use them for your personal enjoyment, but use them also to serve others, for that is where they have the greatest impact. We can pass on the gifts of our abilities to others again and again without running out. Through this act of serving others, we will find the attitude adjustment we seek. Humble gratitude will pave the way.” This has truly spoken to me in so many ways and I cannot deny the blatant message that has revealed itself. What these words are saying is what I realized on my own, and now seeing it written down and the way in which it was presented to me in such a fateful way solidifies it. Dancing is my joy and is a gift that I have been given. I may not necessarily be the best dancer, but I have been instilled with a love for it. And now through choreographing I have discovered how to use these gifts to let God’s generosity flow through me so I can serve others.
Photo: Sara Tollefson