Monday, August 29, 2011

Tunics in Texas Retrospective

Time fascinates me. We measure it in even increments, yet we experience it with tremendous rhythmic variation. There is no even meter grounding human journeys in predictable regularity—unless of course you embrace a perennial philosophical perspective and mark seasonal and yearly cycles as indicators of time’s passage. But even then memory invariably highlights certain events and erases others completely.

Duncan wrote, “I believe in each life is a spiritual line, an upward curve. And all that adheres to or strengthens this line is our real life; the rest is but as chaff falling from one’s progress. Such a spiritual line is my Art” (The Art of the Dance).

Anniversaries invite reflection, and this week marks a full year of weekly Tunics in Texas blog posts. Last year when I started writing, my intention was to create a contemporary forum for Duncan’s ideas—to argue for the continued relevance of her dance practice and for a renewed look at her advocacy for physical and creative freedoms. I have largely explored this through examining my own practice and experiences as a Duncan dancer in a 21st century global landscape.

Duncan’s life spanned the turn of the 20th century, the transition from the Victorian era, through the vehicle of the industrial revolution, to the modern world. My experiences span the turn of another century, shaped by the internet, cell phones, and digital technology. Means of personal expression and global communication continue to expand and evolve, and yet the issues of women’s rights and human rights, restricted freedoms, lack of access to education and resources, and an imbalanced pooling of the world’s wealth continue to persist.

That Duncan used her status as a performing artist to raise awareness of critical issues and that she envisioned her art as a means to alleviate suffering and bring beauty into the world are but two ways that the example of her artistic life informs and inspires me as a modern exponent of her work.  I intend to continue to use this blog as a platform to examine my artistic practice as a Duncan dancer and to explore how this creative perspective intersects with and informs the world around me.

And has the year been global! I’ve based my reflections here on my current status as an Austinite, but my dancing journey has included multiple regional adventures (mainly Houston with Divergence Vocal Theater) as well as national and international collaborations with musicians and other dance artists in New York, Connecticut, Italy, and Russia. In this next year, I hope to continue to develop these artistic relationships and, through them, to share the beauty, joy, and creative potential of Duncan dance.