In 1999 I joined a dance troupe that was based in the local community college.

Many of numbers were a mix of rehearsal availability and dance needs, it wasn’t a rigorous group by any stretch. Except an instructor I really liked was actually auditioning for a very physical dance. I went, not expecting much. A long time ago I had learned that if overtly feminine was part of the requirements for a thing (like cheerleading, or dancing) I was likely to get the role of weakest male instead (I have played the Munchkin Mayor (in drag), the football coach (in drag) and the far edge of the bottom of the pyramid more than once).

When I went to the audition we were all taught a two-person combination. One person stable and grounded, the other approaches from the front – left hand to the stable person’s right thigh, right hand to the stable person’s left shoulder and then feet in the air to be caught by the stable person.

Think about how a baton twirler walks and carries a baton tucked into their arm kind of like a baby. Like that, with the head of the moving person at the stable person’s hips and their feet waaaaay up in the air. Hold for 5 seconds and then disassemble in a way that doesn’t kill anyone.

I learned that move 14 years ago, if I trusted my body and a partner well enough I could still do it because I remember it that clearly.

The best part was that everyone who would be accepted into the piece had to be able to do BOTH parts. For once I would be able to do the beautiful flipping part as well as the stable part.

My partner and I nailed it. Then the instructor looked at the program – I was in the dance before and the one after. I wasn’t replaceable in either by that point. I wouldn’t get to play. The song before gave me the chance to get across the stage in 8 beats with a running roll thrown in for dramatic measure (I suspect I could still do the roll too). The song after was non-descript and a bit of an embarrassment as the choreography kept deteriorating to accommodate the lowest common denominator.

I have a tiny sad in my heart that I wasn’t in the extremely physical piece because it was stunning. I also know that I was eating a pound of peanut butter a day during the Saturday rehearsals and my feet were so gory by the end I was taking pictures of them. The celebration dinner after the opening show also included six ice packs. I am not sure I could have physically really pulled it off but my GOD I was having a wonderful time working so hard to be ready for the show.

It really remains a highlight of those years — and those years were really really good.

Last night a friend of mine & I drove to Durham, NC to see Pilobolus perform at the amazing DPAC. We ate at the Blue Olive where you should totally eat if you have the opportunity.

Pilobolus does the type of dance I long to do, even though my body is far past the opportunity. I love that when I go back and look at the website I recognize the dancers. I saw two world premiere pieces and the first one (choreographed in part by Penn & Teller) was great but the second … will be how they close the show for a long time because it is perfection. I also got to see two men untie themselves from a Gordian Knot on a Stripper Pole – and if you ever have the change — you should see that as well.

There may be hesitation because any YouTube search shows folks in G-Strings. You might wonder if your kid / mom / uncle / grandma should see it. They should. You should. Bodies are amazing, and more than the physical proximity of the dancers to each other (they are CLOSE), the intimacy of the trust they show each other, the respect, the absolute faith they have is mind blowing.

If you are mid-air, I will catch you.
If you are head-down, you will not fall.
If you flirt, I will flirt back.
If you trust me, I will trust you.

Go see Pilobolus. At least in Durham they also did a shorter “children’s show” which (I suspect) involves a different level of clothing.

Advertisements