Monday, September 13, 2004

A Morning with Wally Cardona 

“What if every cell in your body at once has the potential to perceive time and space as completely unique and original?”

<> That is the question that Wally Cardona began his improvisational workshop on Sunday morning with. It is a question that Deborah Hay has posed to him recently in preparation for the upcoming Match/Adaptations on Tour performance that the two and Ros Warby will perform later in the week. He said it was hard to imagine teaching a class at this point without setting that context for us. It’s the one he’s been working in. And with that question posed, we began to explore what our bodies would do in space. <>

I am not a dancer. That is to say, I love it but am untrained. I have watched and enjoyed modern dance for years now always amazed at the precision with which dancers control their bodies, amazed at how they relate to one another in space. I have done enough theater to get that my body, in dance, is the primary instrument, but it is rare that I’ll cut loose and explore it’s fullest potential. <>

As we moved through the room Wally directed us to focus on the present but to not get stuck. “If you find yourself focusing on something, or some part of you, let it go,” he said. And we explored our individual rhythms. I found myself responding to the scenery out Conduits’ big windows: the tops of buildings, treed hills in the distance, a 5-story parking lot. Each stimulated me in different ways and my body responded accordingly. <>

He directed us to focus on the present, here in this room, and I found myself sweeping my feet with the scuffs on the floor, drawing an invisible bow to the holes in the ceiling. “It is through tapping into that cellular present that we find our archetypal selves,” he said. <>

And then, because he must have known our isolation, he said, “acknowledge that there are other people in the room.” With that there was much liberation. The veil of solitude, which each of us had imposed on the space, was lifted. The energy shifted. I was overjoyed. I hadn’t realized that I was ignoring them, but suddenly there they were, a room full of people dancing, each alone, and just now aware that he or she was not the only being in the world. <>

Wally kept coming back to, “What if…” <>

“What if every cell in your body at once has the potential to perceive time and space as completely unique and original?” <>

We started to dance with each other, pairs at first. Exploring each others’ movements. Exploring how we fit together or what kept us apart. As we went on we got more comfortable, we got more daring. I began to trust my body: I can lean that far, I can stand on one foot that long, and lift my leg that high. I began to trust my fellow dancers: she can support my leaning weight; he can lead me through these frantic dips and turns; we can fall together, wrapped up in each other and be OK. <>

And every time I got stuck or afraid, I’d ask myself, “What if…” <>

Almost automatically the body breaks free. Almost automatically it realizes its limitations, where it’s holding itself back or getting stuck in old patterns. And Wally reminded us too. “When you find yourself doing ‘that thing’, when you recognize what’s going on, go beyond.” <>

I have much to learn about being present, about entering people’s worlds and leaving them. Dance is a beautiful metaphor for life. It is human relations in microcosm. Fearing and learning to trust. Patterning and breaking free. By the end I think we all could say we had some wonderful times. We danced with some lovely people. Sometimes we jived and sometimes we did a little two-step and moved on. But there always comes that stagnant point, the point at which I know too well what’s going on, and everything’s losing its flavor. That’s the point when it’s up to me. That’s the point when I’ll say in wonder, “What if every cell in my body does have the potential to perceive time and space as completely unique and original?” When I live in the question, they do.

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