As a special birthday bonus, yesterday I attended the Day of Dance celebration down in at the Civic Arts Center in LA.
I came planning to participate in the workshops, and managed to make it through the “warm-up” routine, but it was hot, hot, hot. The performers were up on a covered stage, and they were complaining. The crowd had only an artsy fabric shade cover, and only about a third were able to take advantage of its shelter.
So I quickly found myself standing in the shadows at the front of the Music Center. As for the rest – they were not about to be deterred. LA apparently has a growing dance movement. Many of the attendees were young people and their parents. The early workshops focused on dance routines that had been posted on the internet, and the personal flair in each interpretation was a joy to watch.
I was expecting to have fun and be inspired, but dance is an ancient practice. As the event rolled into the second routine, the fitful breeze wasn’t keeping me cool, even in the shadows. My thoughts wandered up into the heat. Answering back came a surprised gratitude, and then a deep sorrow. People have always danced this way, in celebration of the light. It didn’t want to oppress them. The sorrow spread, and began to encompass the flora and fauna. This wasn’t the way it was meant to be.
The early morning activities were meant to be accessible. There wasn’t anything done by the performers that I didn’t think that I could do myself, and the attendees were involved in an enthusiastic celebration. I finally broke away at 12:30 for lunch, and when I came back, the tone became a little more serious. The Australian Special Olympics dance team performed, and the music and movement conveyed clearly the struggle and pride they have in achieving independence. But the capstone of the event, for me, was the performance by the Jacob Jones Company. The accompaniment was a meditation of the nature of time. I found myself anchored in this nexus of energy, the celebration of the dance tying the past together with the future. When the dancers left the stage, I had the feeling that the audience had been reduced to humble awe by the power of their evocation.
The Civic Arts Center is conducting a series of Friday dance celebrations this summer. I plan on attending as I am able. For those of you in LA: Hope to encounter you there!