Making space for joy

Listening to Florence and the Machine – as always I’m late to the music game (although I might be in the first million or so people to have listened to FKA Twigs new album. This is almost unheard of. Not since the new release of a new batch of cabbage patch kids in 1984 have I been at the forefront of a pop culture trend. Sometimes years ahead…)

Anyhow. I get this music. I mean I get the experiences and feelings she is sharing and singing out, sometimes poetically, sometimes rhythmically. I understand the musical games she is playing. This is rare for me so I really notice when I really notice something like this.

I am watching snippets of videos as Spotify plays me these songs. She can dance. I love the choreography. I feel like I want to be in on this. Can I tell her that I’d like to choreograph her videos? This is one of those cases where I feel like my moment has probably passed on this. I don’t dream in the way that her choreographers who work with video and big budgets do. Maybe that’s not true. Maybe that’s the curse of the middling woman, assuming that she probably doesn’t know enough.

I think that’s the curse of it actually.

For years I assumed that I wasn’t a fast swimmer. I would be swimming in the slow lane and finding myself annoyed at others. Who were going slowly. They weren’t. I was going too fast for the slow lane. I moved to the medium lane. The lifeguard told me I had to. I feel fine about in the medium lane. Although I can swim fast enough for the fast lane, if there are others around the pressure makes me anxious, and the purpose of swimming is the opposite of creating anxiety. I feel fine about the fact that I might not be fast. But what if my undervaluing myself actually fucks things up for others. In my misguided assumption that I am being humble and less prominent I am actually messing up the flow for everyone else.

I think of how many middling women I’ve heard say things like “it’s okay that I don’t share my idea/get the position/recognition/attention/validation” “I’don’t need it, I’m fine with myself”. But what if they are robbing the world of their great gift. What if we need them as examples. They are our role models. Surely we have got this by now: if little girls don’t see women in positions of power they generally assume that there is some reason they cannot aspire to positions of power. That’s what the middling women who do not throw their hats into the ring for things are doing. And to be fair it’s a brutal ring sometimes. There are still lots of folks who are not particular fans of middling women. 

Why am I saying all this. Oh yeah, I’m almost a middling woman. (More to come as time goes by.)

By that logic, I should get in touch with Florence and The Machine and say I’d like to choreograph or co-direct her next video. WOW. That feels huge. And the kind of thing I’d advise anyone else to do. So I guess I better.

How to go about this?

What is my favourite of my works? How do I get some killer footage on my reel? Or better yet, how do I get the wonderous magic that I make represented well on film? If I could figure this out….actually Vicarious Time, the solo I’m making right now might be the thing. I need to find someone who wants to collaborate on this. It could be Linnea. And if Linnea could edit the footage we shot in the summer we might get somewhere with it.

That’s half a plan. I feel pretty good about it.

The next thing in relationship to this that I want to unpack is the kind of work we make. When I think about the images that illuminate and elucidate the subject matter I’m exploring with my next piece and that Florence and The Machine explore with so much of theirs, I think about the place we’re at now in a trauma conscious society. We now generally think that demonstrating trauma is not best practice. That re-traumatizing and/or triggering folks isn’t the way to go. However, the thing that’s so great about the Florence and The Machine songs is that the feelings expressed through lyrics and music echo my own. It doesn’t get me worked up. Sometimes I have to listen to a song about 28 times on repeat or close to it. Sometimes I have to sing along to all the repetitions with it to see where it takes me. Some of the music creates a mirror and sort of a release through singing and/or the rhythmic, harmonic, melodic elements of the music.

Back to my work. It is being said and I say it too that what we need most is space for joy. We do not need didactic work that makes us think hard about things like the desperate and despondent state of the world. (Or do we? Sometimes I think yes.) It is undeniable that the world needs more joy. Space for joy creates space for possibility. If the desperate state of the world and despondent hipsters and burnt out middlers and still going strong consuming everything and hoarding the resources baby boomers are getting you down, then what you need is some joy. The feeling is like a palette cleanser. It makes space in yourself for possibility. That’s the feeling. The delightful potential of curiosity. How wonderous. How energizing. That’s what the world needs: curious, energized people who care because they have joy.

The world needs curious, energized people who care because they have joy. I think it might be that simple.

Back to the work. I have images in my mind that express feelings and experiences that resulted in trauma. The imagery might be triggering. I think some people need to see this. It mirrors their feelings and echoes their experiences. Only through the creation of that imagery and the discovery of that choreography can I move through it. Moving through it means searching for the possibility of transformation within it to find the material on the other side. So that there might be transformation and/or transmutation and that might transmit through the performers and the energy generated to the audience and that together we might all reach a space of joy.





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