Tag Archives: vulnerability

Meeting Me: Moving Past What You Do To See Who You Are

A couple weeks ago I traveled to Atlantic City to see an old friend, Tracey, perform in one of those celebrity impersonation concerts. I arrived late (fashionably, of course) to the performance venue, and received my ticket. As I entered into the auditorium packed with people, I was surrounded by the booming voice of my friend. Tracey was sitting at the piano, her fingers prancing and pouncing along the keys as she filled our ears with a beautiful rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.” She held the audience’s undivided attention. She was confident, sassy, and seemingly larger than life as people usually are when they exist within their passions. I swelled with pride as she finished her number and said, “Thank you! Don’t ever stop reaching for your dreams, I love you!” before strutting off the stage. It was dope to see hundreds of people introduced to the same shining spirit that has captivated me for years. My fascination with Tracey went beyond her talent though. Sure, I traveled to Atlantic City to support her in what she does, but I more-so traveled there to better understand who she is.

After the show Tracey and I had dinner. We talked for a while, but most of the conversation consisted of what we’re doing, the things we’re accomplishing, etc. It was cool conversation, but one of the first things most people ask when you first meet them is, “what is it that you do?” And there I was, after a decade long friendship, having a drawn out conversation regarding that same question. It made me wonder, why are so many conversations like this? Why do we talk about what we do as though that is what defines us?

My guess would be that we don’t want to talk about what defines us. Talking about that would mean foregrounding the fluctuating thoughts that bombard us every day— and who has time to hear about that? I think we reject being real with ourselves, about what defines us, because what defines us consistently changes every day. We’re up, then we’re down; we go to sleep one way, wake up another; we look at ourselves in the mirror, and notice there’s a grey hair that we swore was not there yesterday. It’s too much energy to keep up with! So, we make it easier on ourselves and stick to what we already know and understand…our jobs, our hobbies, and our 10-year relationships where we enjoy different versions of the same conversation.

The reason I love dance is because it gives me the chance to consistently meet me, and all the changes that come with that. One day my right hip is crazy tight. Then the next, ouch, the bottom of my spine really hurts. And the next, yo…I’m feeling pretty freakin’ good! No matter where I’m at, dancing forces me to be aware of myself in that moment. It encourages a kinesthetic curiosity within me. I ask myself how I’m doing: what can I do today, what can’t I do, and how am I negotiating the two so that I can be better than I was yesterday? When I take that time to meet myself, I find that I’m better able to meet and connect with others as well. As Gabë and I mentioned in our previous posts, I think that’s ultimately what it’s all about.

So I encourage you, as tiring as it might be, to use your resources to check in with who you are every day. There will be aspects about yourself that disappoint you, but with that comes the characteristics that get you excited and joyful. Yes, events will happen that get you down— be down. Sit in it. Come to terms with it, and understand who you are within that moment. Then, find it in yourself to get out of it. Just do it. You’ll find you’re greater than your situation. When you’re not, trust in others to help you push through. Talk to them. Be vulnerable. They say it takes a community to raise a child. Well, we don’t stop needing help to grow as we age into adulthood. Embrace community, depend on others to make you strong, and move on.

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The V-Spot: Lightness in Hiphop Dance

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As I have worked on my composition skills in the graduate level, I have had moments where I realize I am uncomfortable as I move- but I’m never uncomfortable when I’m moving…unless…unless I feel a sense of vulnerability. That feeling creeps and consumes my soul in few instances: when I am ill-prepared to present, performing to no music, or…wait for it…dancing with my arms above my head. What?! Craziness right?

I don’t know. Both arms in the air, fully giving yourself to whatever comes, that is a scary feeling. I tremble at the thought. There is something about realizing you have nothing to hide behind while a multitude of people are staring at you, expecting from you. A part of it is a personal vendetta; however, I feel as though a part of it is the Hiphop culture I look up to so much.

Hiphop dance was birthed out of the ghetto. It started out as an escape from drugs, violence, gangs and an oppressed lifestyle. The aggression and anger that stemmed from these aspects of urban life within the Bronx, New York were positively directed through this art form. That is to say, the emotional connotations that came with living life in the urban community became ingrained within the essence of Hiphop dance from its birth. Breakers would battle each other instead of shooting each other; yet, while moving to the breakbeat, these dancers would attack each other with the same magnitude of emotion that they would have if they were in a gang drive by…

…and so the lineage has been passed down. Within many styles of Hiphop there maintains a through line of an aggressive, yet cool, nature; displaying strong and direct movement with play between timing and flow. All of which resembles the nuances an urban youth must maintain to survive within the ghettos during the beginnings of the Hiphop era. The moment one displayed an accepting effort quality (light, sustained, indirect, and free) in life was the moment they decided to give up living. Therefore, emotions like vulnerability did not have much acceptance within the overall Hiphop community, including the dance.

I feel as though there is a cultural connotation in regards to the resistance against having both arms in the air while dancing in a typical Hiphop aesthetic and exuding Laban’s accepting effort qualities. I feel weak, naked, and transparent- diminishing my ability to feel confident and “swagged out” like Hiphop has taught me to be. I question whether I have seen anyone breakthrough this conflict that I personally struggle with, and what mindset they are in to accomplish that defiance. I wonder if styles like voguing and whacking would allow me to be more comfortable, and why that may be. Many questions to continue to explore- perfect reason to be in graduate school.