A few words about ballet

To Leah Victoria Hennessey

I must have been over 4 years old. I was sitting on the floor, listening Tchaikovsky, looking very carefully to the acetate’s disc cover, where there was a corps de ballet performing The Sawn Lake. This is my first memory about ballet. My mother was a dancer, and she lived dancing everyday for many years before she got married. Then she just stopped. She only danced a few times again when I was already twelve or something like that. But I grew up surrounded by music, and the ghost of my mother’s creative life wich she turned into raising my brother and me in her very particular and mad way. I feel thankful for that madness, and even when she never danced professionally again, my life was always about dance. She called me Isadora, because she was reading Isadora Duncan’s autobiography when she was excpecting me, and she tells to everyone who asks about this story in a funny way hat she hadn’t finished the book when I was born, and she called me Isadora without knowing the tragic ending of Isadora’s childern’s life. May be, – she says, I wouldn’t have called you that way, with that tragedy behind your name.

So, when I was 4, I decided that I wanted to be a dancer too. A ballet dancer, and then I went to a very singular and small ballet school, and learned a few steps. As all the other things I’ve learned in my life, ballet for me, happened more in my living room than in the classroom. Later on, when I was around nine, ballet school was over, and I took refuge in my family’s books, where no broken marriages or crisis were happening. And then I knew Isadora Duncan, and felt very inspired by her history. I’ve never liked school. I’ve always felt restricted by teachers and even misunderstood by them. School was boring, nobody knew or cared at all about the spirit, the spirit was that thing I built to protect myself from the reality of my family, to me, as Isadora said, “the spirit was the strength of the whole humanity inside the chest, while you dance”. It was something that I wasn’t able to describe, and the reason why I was a criticized  in school. And then, even when I loved ballet, because it was an ethereal way of being, an elevated and sublime way of being in the middle of a rude and materialist world, I started feeling Isadora’s dance as my own. I read many times his book, and understood every word she said. And then I left behind ballet, and started dreaming in dancing contemporary dance, thinking that was a way to freedom.

When I was in high school I left the school secretly for my parents, and started participating in independent cultural events. I dancesdin the empty classrooms of the school, missed all the courses, and spent two years lying about my situation as a scholar. When I couldn’t stand my lie anymore, I told my parents I wanted to be a dancer, and left school for a while. I thought dance was in a school, in fact. I thought contemporary dance was a place for freedom and spirit. But when I was already studying dance, I found myself submerged in a world of beauty, most than art. I know, I understand now we have to develop a technique, because while we do that we can find spirit. But at least in my case, I fell immediately in the world of vanity, envy, and diets. All I wanted it was to be the best. To be seen, to have glory on the stage. It sucked. When I finished school, I was very disappointed, and I wanted to use my brain, because I felt I had to pull aside my thoughts during that time, when I had to dance, and dance, and excercise. That’s how it starts my story of trying to study history, literature and all those things -that I also abbandoned.

I like to remember something that was said to Isadora Duncan when she started dancing symphonies in the theaters, and all the upper class of music said “How dare you to try to express with only your body what only an immense mind and an immense body of musicians can express?” … then she danced.

But the way I see dance, now, it’s may be just the way I did when I read about Isadora Duncan. I do believe in technique, but this world is building a lot of structures for himself, for the system. These structures change the way we live in our bodies, this vision I had while studying with my body, changed the way I see the world.  And then, my vision took a new perspective; I have a woman’s body. If I want, I can create life, -or not. I have hips, breasts, I cannot have a thin body, and therefore, I cannot dance pretending I’m ethereal. I love ballet, and sometimes I cry when I see it, or when I excercise remembering ballet class at the bar. The beauty of human body is amazing. Sometimes I think all the sacrifices inside ballet give a service to the world, when they can make people catch a glimpse of this human beauty. But unfortunately, I’ve seen suffering, control, pain and shame inside, behind the stage. I’m no one to judge if this is good or wrong, but is not something I want to live at all.

While thinking in my life inside of a woman’s body, I realized that humanity, as the source of my inspiration, was suffering. Patriarchy is one of the reasons why we suffer. Not because there’s an evil energy or entity that built the world in a way that some dominate others, but because it’s just a way we’ve had to live. This is how things have worked out. And one of the symptoms of this affliction is -here comes my theory with all it’s madness and whimsy that when the world started giving names to everything, even it’s own identities, women became the other.

So, we are not the subject, but the object that the subject can name. In many cultures, all the personifications of evil, are women. Feminine is dark, Lilith, the night, sadness. CHAOS. And this mental world, that thinks with science, with the left side of the brain, that seeks for structure, that organizes, names, that plans and above all dominates, is afraid of this chaos. -Thank you Freud, you can leave now.

So, I thought, “If suffering comes from so much domination, from this lack of freedom, I don’t want to be part of those who dominate and think with the left side of the brain, with those who want to control and win, and puny, and silence, and deny the night of the human soul in order to perpetuate only one version of light”. Or something like that.

Now I think dance is sacred, like all the other arts. And I still don’t believe in dance school. I wish we could be told how to develop our spirits, but I guess this is a paradox, because we only develop one when we can be free of doing this by ourselves. I still love ballet, even when it hurts, when I dance it, or when I see it. And then I wonder, am I afraid of the pain? am I part of this world that denies pain? that avoids suffering… I am. And I can’t deny the sweetness of beauty, even when it comes from the most macabre places.

I think dancing changed my way of seeing the world because I was able to look, and touch and feel what my body had to say about our species. And as long as my body changes with time, my vision of the world is changed by him. I have danced for sadness and depression, and for freedom and spirituality, and culture, and only for beauty. But  I think that when we create art,and connect with a source, we say things beyond our understanding, and it feels like, while dancing, sometimes, that we all keep the story of the whole humanity, in every part of us, and we can repeat stories, or write some others that may appear as new ones, but we’re all part of one big concert, and our body sings, and dances, because of that.

May be I will write more, now that I have the intention to think and dance, about dance.

Love

Isa

(sorry for my english)

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