Spring Awakening: Relearning How to Fall

- By Katie Vason

All right, bear with me here. I need for you to turn U2’s “'I still haven’t found what I’m looking for", Billy Joel's “River of Dreams", or Beethoven’s 7th Symphony on in the background. Turn it down a little bit. Got it? Ok good.

We initially started writing these blog entries as a way to relate our practice to the real world, our own life or something of interest. I have a tendency to want to wrap everything up in a neat package and draw correlations of all sorts. And while this one might be a line crosser, maybe a far-fetched correlation, or even down right obvious, it feels new and disorienting which makes me think I’m on the right track. For the record, I’m not actively trying to tie all this up and make a metaphor and come to a solution or conclusion etc. No, I'm just noticing parallels that seem to keep happening as I try to open up to different possibilities and if the correlations and metaphors happen, then there you go.

Ah spring, re-birth, renewal, change. As the season changes, I am more then aware of many shifts happening around me. As the stale of winter grows almost unbearable and heavy, the light shifts and things start to feel a little more breathable and bright. I love that about seasons, the continual change. And how it keeps things relative. Just when it seems like you'll never feel warmth again, nature has a way of reminding you this won't last forever. Change happens...Consistently.

While change is constant, it feels very apparent lately. While I love the change in seasons, I avoid, resist change in many areas of life. If everything is always changing, then why the resistance? Maybe I've reached an age where people naturally make big changes or shifts in their lives. Or maybe I am just more in tune with disorienting change happening with in myself and so am keenly aware of those shifts in others. Then why can't we (I) be a little more accepting of it, have a little more faith in the process? Whether it be a career change, shifting out of career you've put your entire life in to, diving more in to the career you find yourself in, a location change, a major life change, selling your life's work, these seem very apparent in many people in my life, including myself. I would like to say I have changes in store. And that I know exactly what those changes are and how to go about making them. And that I am completely 100% going to follow through and be excited about them. But, this approach has not worked very well in the past so I am trying to go about this a different way. And I am noticing subtle and not so subtle shifts in different and unexpected ways.

As part of an attempt to try new classes and stir things up over the past few weeks, I realize I have forgotten how to fall. Literally. Which is weird. In dance we fall all the time, I've been falling for years. But the past few weeks I've been asked to fall in different ways and realize how instead of leaning in to it, starting with a subtle weight shift that gradually progresses, I physically have just fallen straight down. HARD. Whether through improvising or the task of falling across the floor, the simple act of just leaning in has felt so foreign. In class I’ve almost wiped people out because I can’t seem to figure out my momentum or weight needed to fall in a controlled way to the floor, and I've also run smack in to a mirror with way too much force. What? On the same side of the coin, I have had days where I've been unable to fall at all, staying completely vertical and unable to find any flow and consistency. Maybe I'm reading too much in to this and while I find the physical aspects of forgetting how to fall with ease curious and entertaining, I think it’s a small reflection of what’s really happening in the bigger picture, aka my approach to life in general these days. Literally getting in my own way. Preventing any gradual shift to occur instead of actually listening to what wants to emerge. Saying I want change but then actively resisting it. Opening up to the possibility but then feeling uncomfortable and as a creature of habit, saying no. Planting my feet and not budging. Holding on to this idea in my head, and frankly I'm not even sure what that idea is anymore, but whatever it is, I have been resisting other potential avenues and possibilities. And therefore have stayed exactly where I am. As I start to shift ever so slightly though and allow there to be more a little more space and give, simple things like falling have started to feel disorienting. And I have a feeling this is only the beginning in a whirlwind of disorientation.

This work forces us time and time again to show up and lean in to a similar space, a skill we try to practice on a weekly basis in rehearsal (so I would hope I'd be a little more versatile and apply it to my life as well). Listening and zooming in to the specific while maintaining an awareness of the overall structure developing right in front of us. With out any preconceived structure! It is freaking hard, but once we are able to drop in to that space as a group, magic can happen. To have faith that if we really listen, to each other and what is evolving as a whole, we will be successful verses a pressured situation where we need to create a cool piece with cool moves that has a through line and is cohesive, all in the moment. Sometimes it's hard to get a sense of what direction a piece is taking in a given moment. It's especially nerve racking when it feels like the piece is going nowhere. And how easy it is to distract or jump right back in to old habits or shticks instead of sticking with the unknown. Hence why we practice staying with the awkward as it often leads to an unexpected and exciting outcome. Moments when this work gets deranged or unclear is when we resort to old habits out of fear. If it doesn't work out, you go with it and find a different way. As long as the attention is there, the piece will work itself out.

Now, Katie, replace piece/work with 'life’.” Yes, that sounds great and all, but that hasn’t even been working lately like it once did. For me personally and for the group as a whole, we are all at a place where we could use a little more lean and a little more trust. But what do you do when you lean in to the discomfort and you just stay uncomfortable? And there is no magical outcome or cues to show you’re at least on the right path? A to B must lead to C, right? HA I believe I just answered my own question: to go in with some preconceived notion that if you lean in to the uncomfortable, it will lead you to that magical place takes the focus right out of the equation. Maybe it takes more faith and an honest willingness to actually fall in order to be open to true change. A willingness to fall. A willingness to fail…And a trust that it will work out. A trust that I'm currently trying to find. Again and Again and Again. and Again.

Now that I’ve sufficiently wrapped myself in a ‘dare to dream’ poster, I’ll hold myself to this:

I don't know what the next few months look like. I have no idea what the next year looks like, but little by little trying to chip away and find a little more direction by leaning a little in to the unknown. Maybe this time I will listen more closely. And not be so linear, black and white, all or nothing literally and figuratively. And a little more lightness perhaps knowing that we're in this all together.

The metaphors have come out in full force. And I'm ok with that.