By Carly Penner
"I could work out a lot of emotions by going to class and dancing" Suzanne Farrell.
Dance always has so much to teach us. About community, about hard work, about determination, commitment, preparedness, about life around us and ultimately about ourselves. What I am presently learning from this masterful teacher is how much healing it provides. Not that this isn't something I've always known, but this stage of my life it has brought so much more joy, and much less martyrdom.
Bred in a ballet background, I've always understood that there has to be a great amount of suffering for my art to be volatile, real, valued. You have to have slaved away in the studio every spare hour, or you can't really mean what you're trying to communicate with your physical self. You have to have pushed yourself in class to the point of vomiting, or you aren't trying hard enough. If your blisters aren't bleeding into your pointe shoes, did you really give it your all? Perhaps it's such a mind set in the ballet world because it's passed along in the ballets themselves. Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Giselle, all desperately beautiful because they evoke such emotions from us, pull at our heart strings, make us go through hell for the reward. For a long time I thought that using the frustration as motivation, burrowing myself in the painful emotions and dancing with that cauldron bubbling over inside of me, was helping move through them. Looking back now I believe that all that is, is festering. Ruminating. Glorifying entirely unhealthy things.
It's about so much more.
When you can really free yourself in this art form, there's a part of you that sings, that doesn't care for the aesthetic. We all need the reminder at times, that you're allowed to feel good when you dance. A secret part of you, the essence of you, can be tapped when you're allowing your body to create. It's an incredibly vulnerable, liberating and empowering thing. Dance and emotion are intrinsically linked in a way that I don't think we will ever fully understand. Taking a strictly pragmatic approach the benefits of physical exertion alone, the release of dopamine into the blood stream, has an amazing affect on our mental outlook. If you keep on the rose coloured glasses and let your body guide you to where it wants to BE, it is a uniquely glorious sensation of feeling whole.
Carly Penner grew up dancing in the Fraser Valley and is a dancer with Catalyst. This past year she experienced dance in Israel through Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s Dance Journey Program. READ MORE at www.catalystdance.net/catalyst-dancers/
Catalyst photo of Carly by Brenda Kent 2015