CAST MEMBER: Loueva Smith
Last night we filmed. It was like learning to drive a standard shift automobile, except better than that. It was like learning to drive your big brother’s standard Mustang on a hot summer day with the windows down and loud boy music playing. Not that we had music last night. We were music. The way we were music when we learned to drive, and we could get into the car and turn on the radio and drive off a long way from home being free. Not that we were free. Lydia was in charge of us and she kept saying things I couldn’t understand, and I kept asking the nearest trained dancer to translate it. “We rehearsed it. Remember? I did this. You did that.” Oh yeah. It was fun. It was a game. It was play. After I got home all sweaty I didn’t want to take a shower the way you don’t want to take a shower after really fun lovemaking. You want to leave your sweat on because it’s sweet. When I got up today I put on my old hippie music and danced some more, and sweated, and thought about people dancing at Woodstock and how they wanted to change the world. I thought about Woodstock because I’m old enough to be Lydia’s mom, and the thing is; it’s not the music that never gets old: it’s the dancer, because there is an inevitable joy in the body. It’s what the body knows about what you really want to do: dance like nobody’s watching. Right?
This is what Lydia taught me last night. In rehearsals she taught me that a gesture is older than a word; the way a smile is truer than what is said. She would give a writing prompt and then ask us to isolate the parts the jumped off the page at us and then walk around the room softly saying those words until our bodies knew what movements were in our words. Doing that is profound. It drove my voice down deep into my body and gave me goose bumps. Then she took the words away, and I was left with only the gestures, and then the gestures told me another story than the one I began with. If my original gestures were for shame then eventually my body would lead me towards gestures for release. Not that my body wanted a happy ending. It was just that my body knows what to do with shame, and my words don’t really know how to undo shame with an idea. It was a healing process. It is something very old.
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Lydia Hance is a recipient of an Individual Artist Grant Award. This grant is funded by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. Frame Dance Productions’ Framing Bodies is funded in part by the Puffin Foundation. Frame Dance Productions is a recipient of a Rice University Dance Program Space Grant.