I’m not an impressive dancer. I flail around without any sort of rhythm or understanding of tempo. I step off beat. People near me find themselves being driven further towards the edge of the floor as the music picks up. I’ve been known to step on toes and I have a collision record that makes car insurance difficult to come by. I never know what to do with my hands and I spend a lot of time being careful to avoid obscene gestures. My favorite move, and really the only move I know is to combine my rudimentary knowledge of Salsa, Jitterbug, and Belly Dancing into a sort of frankensteinian creation that I like to think of as an octopus who’s lost control of itself.
In reality, I probably do not look as bad as I think I do when I dance. However, it doesn’t really matter to me. Dancing is something that I can lose myself in. Initially, I know I look silly and possibly dangerous, but after a few minutes, the music takes hold of me and my body carries itself without care in whatever awkward direction it feels like. I highly doubt that when Lynn Hill rock climbs, she is anything but a picture of grace and strength. Through her muscle memory her body is able to flow over the rock and in my mind I see her ascend up the rock face like a river filmed and played backwards to a crowd whose jaws can hardly handle the force of their owner’s awe. After seeing a video of her actually climbing, I saw that she was much more slow and deliberate than I had pictured. I found it interesting that for me athletics have always been about speed and though Lynn Hill is impressively fast, it is not as though she sprints up the mountain with total abandon. What I did notice, was that she obviously loses herself in her climb. I could see in her expression that the cameras trained on her were nothing but an after thought. In fact, I doubt she cared about her television spot at all in the moment. Rather she is there, body and mind and earth as one, moving together. I often think of rock as unmoving, resilient, and stubborn. Watching Lynn Hill reminds me of the dynamic nature of the whole process. She herself is dynamic in her adaptability to the rock face as she climbs. Her body shifts according to holds and different amounts of pressure are used for less stable rock. The rock itself is dynamic in perhaps a more subtle way. The rock shift ever so slightly beneath her weight and she must be extra careful not to put weight on loose rock. The face itself is dynamic due to years of erosion. I am not sure why this struck me so other than to relate it to the interconnected nature of all things.
When I dance, I have little care for onlookers. The action is completely about playing with the way my body can move to the playfulness of the music. I would not go as far as to say that the music and become one. However, I would say that my muscle memory takes over and I am able to repeat the same steps without thinking about it. Further, I am able to improvise as the music changes without a whole lot of conscious intent. I do not mean to say that kinesthetic actions are better off completely without mindful guidance. I would agree with Chrisholm’s article, “Climbing Like a Girl: An Exemplary Adventure in Feminist Phenomenology”, though that our psychological assumptions can get in the way of our true physical capabilities. If I accepted my own bias that I was an abhorrent dancer then I doubt I would have the courage to dance. I would be denying myself something that I truly love. Dance like nobody’s watching. Something like that, or maybe it should be, Dance for yourself because the opinion of those watching should never deter you from expressing yourself.