top of page

                                     Is a dance performance set to                                         the album of the same name. This                                       mostly improvisational dance                                           covers similar themes to the album. Each section of the dance covers a Sefirah, or name of the Jewish “God”. Thus, the entire performance acts as a meditation on the Kabbalistic understanding of “God”. Furthermore, the performance seeks to subvert our understanding of this “God” character by demonstrating the universe’s infinite ability to both harm and heal, devaluing the argument of “God” as a perfect autocratic patriarch. The dance also seeks to enhance our conception of gender by showing visually and kinesthetically the process of feeling uncomfortable in one’s skin, being aware of one’s performance, and the transformational quality of subject : subject consciousness.

                              Is a dance performance and practice I                                  participated in during the Fall of                                    2020. Here’s a selection of highlights                                from the process and a link to the original video. Led by Dr. Molly Shanahan, the other performers and I learned a variety of movement practice and focused on branch dancing. This form of modern dance is ostensibly about the connections we create between ourselves and our external world, our world of sensory perception. The contact one feels with the branch is otherworldly and hard to describe; however, like any relationship, one finds common ground (gravity in this case). That relationship, that mutual understanding, allows for a dialogue of motion between oneself and the branch.


Dance Experience

       For a long time I convinced myself that I couldn’t dance. I convinced myself that I was ugly and that my body was fundamentally awkward. It started when I first entered elementary school. When we are first fully socialized into public society, even at a young age, we absorb the memes of that society. One meme that is particularly toxic is the concept that male-bodied people are not beautiful and are strong, not dexterous. I suffered under the socio-cultural reality of this idea, feeling unable to dance or move in interesting ways for much of my life.

        At the end of high school, I finally broke this mold. I decided to audition for the spring musical, Pippin. I got an ensemble role and prepared myself to dance in front of people for the first time in my life. I ultimately enjoyed the process of dancing in synchronization with the other dancers. However, there was a structure to it; I felt very caged while dancing in the Fosse style. I allowed myself more freedom after this. At campfires I’d sometimes dance and I let myself be in more creative motion while moving about the public sphere of the world.

        This approach came into being fully around the time that I joined the Homestead in fall 2018. I was becoming more involved again with music and general creativity at this time. My motion throughout the campus of Denison University became much more fluid. I would spiral down hills and skip up stairs. I would dance to music from my headphones, taking my internal experience and yielding it visible to those around me. Dancing without a reason in public is often seen as unacceptable behavior. Though dancing is completely harmless, it draws stares and muttering under the breath of passersby. A few people might feel happy seeing another person enjoying their life, but most only sink deeper into their own depression or hatred.

         The next year I decided to take a dance class. I was finally comfortable enough with my body to truly go through with understanding my own motion. That class was Dance as an Art Form and I was lucky enough to work with Dr. Molly Shanahan, who has helped me immensely in understanding not only dance, but my own artistic practice. During that class, I was working with a bunch of other dancers who had rarely done dance in their lives. It was such a powerful experience to see other people discovering their motion simultaneously with my own journey. I finished that class feeling so much more confident in my body and my own beauty.

         I keep returning to that concept of beauty because it is such a powerful force on dancer’s lives while remaining unspoken by the greater culture. For much of history, a performer was expected to be beautiful, to be pleasurable to view. This fails to understand the complexity of dance; we do not cease to be interesting to watch when we are not conventionally beautiful. If anything, a diversity of bodies makes for more interesting dance. I choose to be beautiful unconventionally, maybe because I don’t have another choice. I am neither binary genders’ standard of beauty; I exist as an in-between. As a non-binary person, I find that I associate beauty with non-human entities. I feel like a flower or a tree and I feel beautiful. I feel as a passing cloud and I am swept into motion.

          My second dance class was also taught by Dr. Shanahan. COVID-19 was still fresh, meaning that dance indoors was essentially impossible. Dr. Shanahan held the class outside and we created new dance in a space that impressed improvisation onto the dancer. When there is uneven earth under your feet, your dance includes more falling. You learn to catch yourself or send yourself into the ground. You are also surrounded by nature, the body becomes one with the land, with its infinite complexities and forms. We danced with branches and dowels, learning how the body feels connection to “inanimate” objects in motion. I noted the association that I felt between myself and the branch, our shared knowledge of the Newtonian laws of physics, and the diversity of motion available with the simple addition of a branch. I danced with others at a distance, exploring what it meant to be in connection without touch during a dance. This process informed my independent study that I followed up with the next semester as well as the dance I choreographed in my play, The Compassion of Mundanity.

          I decided to do an independent study with Dr. Shanahan as my advisor the final semester of my undergraduate career. This was the dance Spiritual : Circuitry. I created an album in concordance with my choreography of the solo dance. I explored themes of connection, the spiritual experience of transgressing gender norms, and reawakening in a confusing world. I worked on the conceptual framework with Dr. Shanahan, though my choreography and the product was mostly independent. I had finished the circuit, displaying the self-referential process of interdisciplinary art. The dance could never exist without the music. The music could never exist without the concepts. The concepts couldn’t exist without my own heritage and its spiritual implications on my modern life and identity.

          Dance is still a new frontier for me. I’m still learning what dance truly is, what dance means. I continue to dance most days, even if for only 30 minutes. A body in motion stays happy and stays beautiful. I refuse to exist as an awkward mover. I refuse to organize my life by the beauty standards of our binary, image-obsessed culture. I define my dance and my beauty through the queerification of my body, the marginalization of my beliefs. My dance is intimate and reclusive, explosive and horrifying. I want to confront people with my queer body. I want people to see me for what I am, not for what they think I might be. I think dance is a good art form to complete this goal. I’m glad I found modern dance after all the pain I felt about my movements prior. I love dance and I love myself. Those two statements are more linked than you could ever know…

Finger Puppet.png
bottom of page