Art Making, Artistic Process, Arts Leadership, Philanthrophy, Teaching

The Amazing Rebecca Blunk

Courtesy of berkshirefinearts.com

Courtesy of berkshirefinearts.com

Today we got news that the amazing Rebecca Blunk will be stepping down as head of the New England Foundation for the Arts due to health and personal reasons.  I entreat everyone to take a moment and just close your eyes and thank Rebecca in whatever form you express gratitude.  She is a remarkable leader who has made so much possible for so many of us, with a quiet yet forceful style that we can all emulate.

I first met Rebecca in 1983 at the Practicing Cultural Democracy Conference held in Omaha, Nebraska.  We were both young, both seeking, both full of passion about a vision that was beginning to take shape that each of us felt compelled to follow.  It was a view that held that the power of art and art-making could be harnessed in so many ways.  Yes to dance making! Yes to community dance making! Yes to unorthodox means of making and seeing art! Yes to old people dancing! Yes to changing the politics of the country and the politics of the art world… and so it went on… yes, yes, and yes.

That is the thing about Rebecca.  She knows that risk lives in trying and experimenting, in doing and evaluating and then doing again.  I know this on a personal level as she has been a truly valued friend and colleague who has expected the most from me   And I know it on a physical level too as we made dances together just a few months ago.  Yes to the body healing!

 

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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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