As babies, we’re thrust into the world from our mother’s womb and within the first two years of our lives we learn how to sit up, crawl and walk. No one ever teaches us how to do these things, somehow we just know. Before we are able to articulate with words, our bodies are our instruments for communicating our needs and emotions. I believe that movement is our most archetypal language; it reveals what it means to be human, empathetically connects us to one another and within it exists all the beauty and tragedy of being alive.
From the time I was three to seven years old, I spoke very little. I clung to my mom’s leg for comfort and was too shy to utter words, unless first spoken to. Instead, I sought refuge in movement as both a beautiful release and an unforgiving challenge. I’d retreat daily into our family’s basement to create dances and subsequently put on “sold out” performances for my stuffed animals. I knew instinctively that my body and movement specifically possessed the keys to help unlock the complexities of the world and crack open all things I was feeling in myself: fear, loss, pleasure, pain, joy and wonder would all come bubbling to the surface. Movement was an intoxicating elixir and something I was fixated on. At that young age, I couldn’t fully comprehend my relationship to it and how it would eventually inform my life’s creative work. My movement studies soon moved out of the basement, into conservatories and eventually onto some of the biggest stages in the world.
While I had my sights set intensely on a career as a professional dancer, I kept feeling the pull of what drew me to the art form in the first place. I have always observed my physicality and the physicality of others; that gaze from behind my mother’s leg was the first vantage point from which I remember really studying those around me and loving what I saw. The shuffle my grandpa took from the kitchen to his bedroom or the intensity with which my sister described her day, animating it all with exaggerated gestures, the little hand my grandma threw up into the air when she was excited or the deep exhale my baby niece took in my arms before falling asleep. Our bodies are vessels for so much to be held, expressed and shared; no words are needed to fill that space. Our unique experiences become the fiber of our beings, a physical language and rhythm which manifests into our own unique dance. This is a connective tissue which unites us all and narrows the divide between us. In all my creations I believe that this idea is present from the very beginning of the works conception.
Six years ago I became a mother and it has informed my creations in innumerable ways and is inextricably connected to my role as an artist. It has demanded that I trust my body more than ever and underscored the necessity to inhabit the physicality of creating. There is no greater example of the capabilities of the body than the creation of another life. When I was young I Intuitively knew the power of my body and returned to it time and time again. As I got older, perhaps through years of training, performing and seeking “perfection” in movement I somehow programmed myself to distrust and move away from these roots I planted as a child.
My boys, the creatures that I brought into the world, may be some of the riskiest little movers; they step boldly and recklessly into their creations, one day taking on the fine distinctions of a Tyrannosaurus Rex; primal in nature, yawping through the house. The next day they’re interpreting music in the living room with urgency, nuance and determination; breathlessly twirling, bobbing and somersaulting around the obstacles in front of them. It’s a beautiful and humbling reminder of movement making and visceral action in its purest form. An important call to stay true to one’s own little voice and body.
I recently experienced another potent reminder to listen and observe deeply, which feels like the very essence of my creative work. I’ve been practicing yoga for several years now and within the practice often return to “child’s” pose. It’s essentially the home base all yogis find themselves in as a place to center oneself, wind down or take a breather before preparing for a difficult pose. The other morning I watched both of my boys move into “child’s pose” without even realizing it. They didn’t have a name for it and they certainly hadn’t been “practicing” it for years. They simply inhabited the form perfectly and intuitively. They were out of their heads and into their bodies; a completely genuine act, without hesitation, doubt, ego or performance tied to it.
The act of creating for me is a reverent one and one which I hope echoes what I see in my boys every day. I hope in my creations that I, and every artist I have the privilege of working with, occupy the most empathetic and honest space; without words, labels, or knowing. I hope that we exist fully in our bodies and trust the language that will pour from our flesh and bones, the most authentic place, and that which we’ve always known deep down. I hope my art is a reflection of that desperate want and that it includes all the goodness we experience as living, breathing, moving human beings.