It's the dress rehearsal for the Children's Show and I'm sitting watching chaos become art. During the first dance, Ruby was doing what she was supposed to be doing and when she was supposed to be doing it. But she was doing it with a shyness that characterizes her with people outside her family circle. It's always been there, and I've always been glad of it. I watched her watch others, she carefully placed herself. carefully moved her body. She was deeply thoughtful and entirely present in what she was doing.
A bit later in the piece she began moving reflexively. I sat up in my chair. Movements were beginning to come from within. Her arms were outstretched. And. She, for a few seconds at most, became transcendent. This is what art does. This is why children need to be given opportunities to express the inexpressible. This is why politics fears the arts. Transcendent souls are entirely, completely, free. I was moved to the core to see her this way. I see her like few others do, I'm in her circle of safety, so she runs and laughs and jokes and dances freely with us as she does with family. But this was different. This was Ruby as Ruby. Completely, freely, Ruby.
When we first took Ruby to the Propeller Dance Company for classes, we sat in and watched an early class. The mix of kids, those with and those without disabilities, was a lovely thing. The mix of teachers, those with and those without disabilities, was an astonishing thing. The kids were all involved, in that early class, in learning. They were imitating moves, doing as instructed ... they were not yet dancing. I wondered if the teachers were the kind of alchemists that could turn leaden movements into golden moments.
Today, I saw child after child after child have those moments. Transcendent moments of being. Transcendent moments where movement became art and self rose from that hidden place and into public view. Kids with and without disabilities alike shone in moments of pure freedom. And THIS was the dress rehearsal.
People don't understand, for the most part, transcendency and the disability experience. I've heard people speak of people with disabilities who excel at something, some area of human endeavour, and say 'they transcended their disability'. I always quake a bit inside when someone says that. They say it as if disability is something to be risen above, that achievement can kind of nullify the disability. They kind of mean 'he's pretty good for a disabled guy, almost consider him normal, I do.'
I don't believe that one transcends a physical aspect of self, if that's what it means, it would have no power. I think that one transcends ... self - and that's what gives it power. One definition of 'to transcend' reads: To exist above and be independent of material experience or the universe. And this is what I saw. Kids, those with and those without disabilities, transcending for brief seconds ... existing above and being independent of their universe.
We wanted Ruby to attend this particular dance company because we wanted her to have the experience of integration into a life of diversity. We wanted her to be comfortable with the depth and breath of what diversity means. We wanted that.
But we got more.
We got a Ruby who had all those opportunities. But she also, through art, through dance, got the opportunity to integrate into self hood, to discover the bounty and the diversity within. This is why art has always been radical. This is why art is so feared by those in position of power. This is why.
Today, as you read this, we will be attending the show itself. I will watch the whole show but look for those small moments. Moments when the stage is lit, not by the lights that hang from the brackets above, but from the lights that burn in the eyes of those who are captured by, those who are raised by, those who transcend the moment in ... dance.