Hampshire College, 5 April 08.
We were hanging our bodies off the side of a railroad bridge, the gorge swaying beneath us, we had taken a long walk, and I came to realize during these days all the things I needed in life, and when I returned to school I went straight to the dance department and told the head of it that I wanted to change my course of study from English to dance, because I want to sing and dance, and that’s all I want to do, and I want to do it forever, because nothing makes me feel more pleasure. Perhaps there’s one other thing: and that’s song and dance with someone else, improvised, that, as if in a musical, begins without warning and ends, breathless gasps. It reaches a point at which I know the taste and scent of a person just by his or her words, I ask you, how did this, a most beautiful relationship, begin? Wasn’t it by a cigarette, as we shivered in the moonlight, cursing and praising Henry James? But it isn’t just words I need, though I need them, it’s your whole life that I need, and it needs to be as fascinating, if not more so, as mine. And one more thing–you need to know how to touch me, which means you need to know how to read me, it means you must be conversant a language you’ve never spoken, and it means I’ll be reading you very carefully and playing the same games I do in language–and this is why the only mistakes I make, I know they’re mistakes before I begin. The human body is meant to move, the voice is meant to sing, one can tell another’s profession merely by the inflection of his speaking voice, and I can hear your future in the way your “hello!” jumps up major seventh and back down, and why I worry when you say it with a minor third. I have mentioned this before, but through the years I’ve heard various ideas that, when grouped together, indicate that when prose is insufficient, one creates poetry, and when poetry is insufficient, one sings, and when song is insufficient, one dances. And that is why dance must necessarily comprise language, why a jazz soloist must know the words, why a poet must understand grammar…
It was only recently that I heard the term “circus arts”–and soon found myself listening to Fellini soundtracks by Rota, recognized how enthralled I am by movement alone, and how one can sweep across the gradients to reach movement that will render pedestrian that which is common (hahahahahahaaha), I mean there is movement that imitates life in such a way that life outside the dance becomes more precious, because somehow we are capable of this ourselves, somehow we are part of this greater world, are being imitated, if only we could find a way to reach back into our own natural movements. How did we dance before we were taught to stand still? How did we sing before we learned to keep silent? How did we express ourselves before they pinioned our faces?
Not all, but some, was graceful in such a way that inspired breathlessness, there were colors, there were smiles, and sometimes a majesty, expounding through punctuation, the fluidity of the trees who make the wind, wavelets, flickering tails, eyelashes, tongues, movement that was something like the slow pounce into a cherry, rolling the stone between your teeth, the stem between your fingers…and sometimes there was movement like an inebriated gravity, lumbering and erratic, prosaic, the streets and the cities–and it becomes ever so clear to me, that while it’s easy to imitate life while in the forest, the real trick is to imitate life while amongst Others.