Wednesday, March 16, 2005

"Promethean Fire" burns away a dreary day

So – I did it. I got the letter off to the swim guy today. I actually came to think of it more as “the bomb”. Not the positive-kind bomb either - as in “it’s da bomb”, you know – but as in “bombs away”. Well…swim guy wasn’t happy…sigh. Oh well. I kind of knew he wasn’t going to like it but I just felt like I needed to bring up some of the liability issues that the better paddlers end up getting stuck with when they work stuff like that whether we like it or not. It’s done, and I think I said everything I wanted to, and fairly clearly, and that’s the best I can do.

But he definitely wasn’t happy. Usually I like to make people happy. Unfortunately in this case that I couldn’t manage happiness-making and giving my actual perception of the situation, as requested, at the same time, and me being me, I usually go for telling the truth rather than trying to say what I think someone wants to hear. That’s not such a bad trait, is it? Even if it’s not the best way to win a popularity contest. Oh well (yes, again). Popularity schmopularity.

So it was a sort of depressing day – but also something of a relief in that now it’s done.

Ended up having one of those “lucky I live New York” finishes, though. Where else can you, on a random Tuesday after a not-so-hot week-and-a-half of work and non-work crap, decide, on a spur-of-the-moment whim that you need to go do something that very night that is guaranteed to completely blow you away & wipe all the nastiness out of your brain - and then not more than 3 hours after that, after a fortuitous check of a schedule on a website, be blissfully ensconced in a fifteen-dollar seat in the nosebleed section, watching the Paul Taylor Dance Company perform “Promethean Fire” & being duly blown away – as you knew perfectly well you would because you’ve seen that dance, like, 4 times, and it has the same effect of just completely lifting your mind out of whatever crap the world has been throwing at you & just washing it in pure awesome magnificence every time you see it.

It really is the most amazing dance. I’m no dance critic, and if you’re curious I’m sure a quick Google of “Promethean Fire” will give you much better descriptions than I can muster. But wotthehell, Archie, here goes. It’s the whole company. The music begins with the curtain closed. As the first measures of Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D minor play the curtain rises to reveal all 16 dancers on stage – standing like statues - all dressed in sort of chocolate velvet leotards – arms, shoulders & upper chests bare – then starting with one, and then moving out through the group, they start to move. The patterns they make are hypnotic. They swirl, they melt together and break apart – they fragment into subgroups – they open out, fall away, weave together…they collapse, and writhe away from the center…they’re seagulls, they’re leaves blowing past – they’re beautiful, so beautiful it can make your heart catch in your throat. There’s no applause between the individual parts, it’s like the whole audience is just holding their breath afraid to break the spell. And there’s this one moment, when, after a duet has gone from tender to blundering & awkward (as though all the sudden the grace they were sharing just stopped working, and they aren't sure why - Taylor does that a lot) to the edge of desperation – the woman turns to the man, who stands upstage of her – holding his arms out to her – and she breaks into a short diagonal run that ends in the most breathtaking leap – feet first, body flying through the air, laid out horizontal to the floor – she has got to have such complete trust that her partner is going to catch her to commit like that – he catches her – but at the moment she takes flight, there’s always an audible gasp from the audience. I still gasp even though I’ve seen it so many times. It’s just that amazing.

Anyways – just what I needed tonight. I’ll go to sleep with those images playing behind my eyelids instead of all the dreary day-to-day stressors of the last couple of weeks. And all on a whim I had around 4 in the afternoon. Isn’t that fantastic?

Um…but I left out the most amazing New York part of this whole very particularly New York evening. The really incredible part is that one of the people weaving all the magic down there on the stage is a friend of mine. He’s also a former business partner, was one of my first kayak instructors, and was a valuable mentor when I then first started learning to teach. I've learned so much from this guy both on-water & off.

Actually, it was his suggestion about the cheap seats – I’d been torn between going to see some classic Paul Taylor dances that I hadn’t seen before on Saturday, or going tonight to see this piece that I love so much, and I’d said as much in an email. Well, he’s a thoroughly practical person & instead of coming back with an either/or suggestion came back with “The cheap seats are always good”.

Oh yeah. Cheap seats. I forgot about the cheap seats. Fifteen bucks. Imagine that – a top-quality live dance performance for not a lot more than you’d spend on a movie. They were great, too – from that height, the patterns formed by the moving dancers are even clearer. You actually miss some of that from the floor…great stuff.

Anyways – every time I see him dance I just end up shaking my head & thinking “I can’t believe I actually KNOW that guy”. Unbelievable.

Yep. This town does have its’ points...

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