Art Making, Creative Aging, Hiking the Horizontal

An Older Body Getting Older Remembers

This essay is an excerpt from the upcoming paperback edition of my book of essays, Hiking the Horizontal

As I advance through my sixties, people are curious about my experience now that I am reaching the age of many of the older dancers with whom I’ve worked over the course of my career. I am curious too.

Sometimes I step off a curb and I think I am leaping again.

Sometimes when I picture my back curving it feels like I am dancing at summer camp.

Occasionally, if I put on the right shoes (for some reason mostly the plastic jellies), I can walk at a certain pace and put pressure on the ground in a certain way, and I really believe I can do all those steps and figures and phrases I used to do.

Or if I am in rehearsal and see an opportunity in front of me, a way for one dancer to touch another or a move that could happen between them, I am shocked—when I insert myself to demonstrate—that I can’t actually do it.

In fact I am astonished.

I think this must be what a phantom limb is like. The feeling is more real that reality. I am not sad or confused. I try to savor the experience. And who knows, maybe I did it after all.

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