Sunday, April 22, 2012

There's a Light ...

Ruby, transcendent.

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.

They are.

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.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave - I hope you are enjoying the afterglow of the dance - and making special memories with Ruby.

I was taken back by the two statements: "This is why politics fears the arts" and "This is why art is so feared by those in position of power".

I'm not sure I understand. How is art feared? Has not those in various positions of "power" throughout history commissioned art? Have artist not always sought out patrons? Have arts not always been a part of budgets? I don't see it. Would you mind expanding on that - I must be missing something - which is more than probable.

Thank you.

Unknown said...

I hope I get a chance to foster things similarly for my niece.

Kristin said...

How special that you were there to witness Ruby's transcendence!

Dave Hingsburger said...

Anon, I've added in a link that explains better than I can the connection between art, politics and tyranny.

Readers: I can't figure out how to get rid of that white background. It is an error and means nothing.

John R. said...

Art is a distinctly human gift...politics should fear the artists, indeed....truth happens at the point of an artists expression; dancer, poet, songwriter, sculptor is a Canadian that writes it straight out for us...Bruce Cockburn wrote this in 1983..applies to us now....enjoy

Maybe The Poet

Maybe the poet is gay
But he'll be heard anyway

Maybe the poet is drugged
But he won't stay under the rug

Maybe the voice of the spirit
In which case you'd better hear it

Maybe he's a woman
Who can touch you where you're human

Male female slave or free
Peaceful or disorderly
Maybe you and he will not agree
But you need him to show you new ways to see

Don't let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

Put him up against the wall
Shoot him up with pentothal

Shoot him up with lead
You won't call back what's been said
Put him in the ground
But one day you'll look around

There'll be a face you don't know
Voicing thoughts you've heard before

Male female slave or free
Peaceful or disorderly
Maybe you and he will not agree
But you need him to show you new ways to see

Don't let the system fool you
All it wants to do is rule you
Pay attention to the poet
You need him and you know it

Anonymous said...

Here is another transcendent little girl:


Belinda said...

Wow, John R. I love that song/poem and it's the perfect illustration of the point! Hope your solo week with your daughter is going well so far!

Dave, if ever you needed affirmation that you made the right choice to be there to witness Ruby's debut(not that you did), seeing the light burning in those eyes is it! :)