Tonight, we went to see PILOBOLUS at the Music Hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The first piece they performed was so beautiful, I found it difficult to breath for fear of missing some small gesture. Just minutes into the piece, I was struck with the desire to make better art. All summer, I wrote with joy. I filled my notebooks with a draft of a novel titled Once in a Lifetime. Since the semester started, I have not worked on the novel. It’s easy to say, “I’m busy” or “Grading papers zaps my creative energy,” but the real reason I feel despair over my writing is because I’m not writing. Watching the Pilobolus dancers reminded me that I’m just a half step away from that creative space at all times. Of course, this is something I can intellectualize, it is something that I tell my own students all the time, and it is something that all manner of wonderful folks remind of every day. But such things are difficult to remember, no matter how many times I walk this path. To feel joy about art, I must create; to feel joy about art, I must seek out good art. That’s what happened tonight.
This photo is a still of Pilobolus’ opening number. Because mirrors played such a large part of the performance, and because the mirrors were so large, not only were the dancers reflected, but the theater itself, the wings, the lighting, the audience. The dance concerned: man, machine, motion, lyricism, the individual, the collective, solitude and community–but it also was about the dancers seeing themselves, the audience watching the dancers see themselves, the dancers seeing the audience watching them see themselves, and how that all worked together to unite nearly seven hundred people in one place at one time. Even thinking about it gives me chills. This beautiful art has made me want to make more of my own work. Of course, like all beautiful art, my own art is still in the non-beautiful phase. There is much work to be done. Better get busy.