Tag Archives: dance

Stop Moment #7: The Lifelong Learner

“That was fun!”  The studio director smiles and pats me on the shoulder.

In her costume she blends in with the dozens of students she joined on stage for a studio-wide production. Her performers are of all ages, levels, and abilities, and she acknowledges each one with gratitude. They smile back.
Her words catch me off guard. I am working backstage at a touring dance competition, and over the course of cueing up over five thousand performances, I witness mostly stress, frustration, and fatigue. I watch teachers biting their nails in front of the backstage monitor. They shake their heads, cringe, and grumble, “That line is ugly,” and “Ugh, that was bad.”

SuzannaWrightLifeLongLearner 1
It is the students from the same dance schools who most frequently run off the stage, crying, and verbally abusing themselves. “I messed it up! I ruined it! I was so bad!” They sprawl in the curtain wing, and we have to gently move them so the show can continue.

“In many respects, teaching and learning are matters of breaking through barriers – of expectation, of boredom, of predefinition,” writes Maxine Greene.1 Another barrier is the fear, doubt, and erosion of self-confidence that restricts our freedom to learn. I look at these young dancers crumpled on the floor and I wonder how many of them will continue dancing as adults. Will they ever dance for the sake of dancing, and forgive themselves for stumbling?

1 Maxine Greene, Releasing the Imagination: Essays on Education, the Arts, and Social Change (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995), 14.

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Stop Moment #6: Replacing Ambition with Curiosity

SuzannaWrightJaneFonda

“Let curiosity replace ambition,” repeats Anne, instructor at EDAM Studio.
Her voice peacefully washes over us as we roll and lean into each other, trying to incorporate the mechanics of contact improvisation into a flowing dance.
In this case I think she is using the word “ambition” to mean “ending”. She is asking us to be present in our movement, and to not be  aiming for any kind of conclusion – to avoid trying to “get” anywhere. I have decided to apply this mantra to the other kinds of social dancing that I do, and to broaden the application. I wish to remove my ego from my dancing. If I pass judgement on another dancer (which might, for example, appear as a smug thought about their movement, or a hesitation to ask someone to dance), then I am part of the problem. This week I challenged myself to ask whoever I saw first when the song began, no matter if they were beginner or advanced, no matter if I knew them or not. If I felt a negative thought coming on, I reminded myself to let curiosity and playfulness guide my experience. I greatly enjoyed dancing this past week. This is definitely a practice that I will continue as my performative inquiry deepens.

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Dance Lessons

For my first experiment with polymer plate printmaking, I created a silly 32-page mini book.



No, no, I don’t really suppose to teach anyone anything about dancing.

The book was printed using two 8.5×11 polymer plates. The prints are double-sided and cut down to size.

Here is what one of the pages looks like:

Dance Lessons was printed in an edition of 8 of which a few copies remain. Leave me a comment or e-mail me at wrightsuzanna [a t] gmail [d o t] com if you are interested in collecting your very own!

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