A Dancer’s Quarantined Consciousness

22 June 2020 Published in News and Announcements

A poem by School of Dance Ballet Major Lauren Wattenburg.


“How would you describe yourself in 5 words or less?”
I am a dancer...one, two, three, four.
That would be simple,
     wouldn’t it?
But is it the whole truth?

If a dancer is
     “one who dances”
then couldn’t that be nearly
     anyone?
All who have danced
do dance
will dance
remotely like to dance
dance because they’re in a crowded room and will be more noticeable if they
     don’t
dance because they don’t know what they would do if they
     didn’t?

So then, yes, under whatever definition
I am a dancer...
it is part of me
part of what I am
not all of who I am.

I dance for sanity. Because I am saner when dancing, even if it’s driving me
     insane.
I dance for humanity
believing that movement is a fundamental of
     humanness
so, dancing makes one more
     human.

Dancers are not limited by their form but freed by it.
Overcoming the mental bounds
     imposed on oneself
finding the harmony between thinking
     just enough
and letting intuition and instinct be the
     navigators,
that is the challenge.
The battle between analysis and intuition
where if there is a victor, there is
     stagnation.

Be present, they say.
Live in the here and now
because before you know it the
     here and now
will be the
     there and then.
          No pressure.

Dancing is present
fleeting
temporary
yet not easy to be present within.
Shouldn’t it be simple? Present art form=present artist?
One would think so.
But dancing is an action with implications.
It demands more than the moment in which it exists
     auditions
     performances
     rehearsals
     schedules
     jobs
     companies
but to be absent in the present
would be to rob oneself of the
     fullness of the future.
To release the present of expectations
to move with the understanding that this very moment will
     never occur again
to relinquish control
knowing that your actions will affect the future, without
     assuming
that you are holding the reins.

Be present, they say. No pressure.

COVID-19. Need I say more? 
Be presently disengaged with the world.
Keep dancing. Keep distancing.
The house is your studio.
The backyard your stage.
The world your oyster,
     virtually.

“How was your week?”
     Good. Very similar to the one before.
     And the one before that.
     And the one before that.
     And the one before that.
“How are you?”
     Good, I think. My mind’s inconsistency is one of the only constants.
     But, good. Healthy. Grateful.

Strange how the abnormal becomes the new
     normal.
Strange to think how many hugs we used to exchange.
Strange to think how I planned to wear a cap and gown last month.
Strange to think how I’ll never know what so many people’s smiles look like.
Strange to think how we haven’t moved together in months.
Strange to think how quickly our world has changed.
Strange to think how many lives have been affected. Affected much worse than mine.
Strange to think how I took too much for granted before. How naïve.
Strange how the abnormal becomes the new
     normal.

“How are you taking care of your whole self right now?”
Well, that’s entirely trial and error.
Form a schedule
     attempt a structure.
Read a book
     escape your own lens.
Move
     just keep moving.
Find things that make you laugh
     often.
FaceTime a friend
     they miss you just as much.
Call your elders
     they get lonely too.
Put the phone down
     so it doesn’t take you down with it.
Step outside
     the sun still shines.
Remember what you’re grateful for
     there’s always something.
Acknowledge those emotions
     they’re real.
Experience and accept this moment and keep heart
     until we meet again.