Monday, July 27, 2009

Life After Dance

I just learned that Merce Cunningham died last night at the age of 90. He danced until the very end of his life. This, in itself, is incredible. His legacy is monumental. So now I’m feeling a bit low, and wondering how he managed to stick with it into very old age. I’m thinking that Merce Cunningham created a way of moving that was specific to his body type, as he was known for a particular style all his own. Then there are people like me, who try to contort our bodies into shapes that were not meant for our body types at all—leading us to middle-aged back pain and chronic tendinitis.

What do you think? Even if you’re only seventeen, how do you see yourself in the future? Do you think dancing will be more an aid or a hindrance to your physical well-being when you’re forty years old? I had a chiropractor who talked to me when I was twenty-four. He said he was worried that I wouldn’t be able to walk when I was forty. I laughed. But now I’m forty-one, and I’m realizing he had a point.

I wouldn’t trade my years spent dancing or teaching for anything in the world. It’s the love of my life. But I can see how realistic the teachers are in Russia when they determine whether or not a child should begin studying dance by first looking at his or her proportions and physical tendencies. If someone is not blessed with a dancer’s body, they are not expected to dance. However, I’m thankful here in America we are all able to pursue our dreams, regardless of our potential.

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