slow down, lady

It’s here! The season has officially opened and I can hardly believe how a month has flown. Classes, trainings, learning about the people around me and how this mini universe of a world works. Getting comfortable with this place after shifting once more into a new environment.

Being a sponge. Two moments in particular made me feel particularly sponge-like in an effort to absorb the specificities and intricacies of the experience…

One

Yesterday was the opening gala. The evening marked the first performance of the season – a gathering with over 500 guests eager to eat, drink and be merry in the name of dance. Pam, our director, made a comment in her opening remarks about how pivotal this place is. Not only is it a world-renowned venue, but it’s also the ONLY venue in the nation dedicated solely to dance, and the only national landmark that pertains to the preservation of dance.

Students of The School’s ballet program, a duet of talented dancers from the Aspen Santa Fe ballet, and the widely-acclaimed Michelle Dorrance and tap dancers from Dorrance Dance all graced the stage. I had the distinct honor of watching the beginning of the gala from the wings downstage left. My role was simple – to hold the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award for the Director as she awarded it to this year’s recipient, Camille A. Brown.

When I say my heart was literally beating at twice its normal speed, I’m not kidding. Stepping foot onto that iconic stage…standing alongside The Pillow’s director and one of the biggest names in dance today…bearing witness to history in the dance world. How the heck did I get here?

Two

I felt a similar moment of humble calm on Friday morning. It was only our second community class with Adam Weinert, an alum of Juilliard and of The School at Jacob’s Pillow, not to mention one of the most petite and sweet humans on planet earth. He has spent most of his career part-performer-part-historian. His persistence to uncover the works of some dance’s greatest choreographers has led to a performance opportunity here later in the festival. Friday morning, instead of a “typical” modern dance class, Adam taught us the warm-up methods of Ted Shawn, then a solo he created here in the 1930’s.

It was as if we were reviving history in the very place it was first written. Reveling in the past, yet also bringing it forward to now. Essentially a moving snapshot of the 1930’s American male, Adam informed us that this solo was extremely precious to Mr. Shawn. He refused to teach it to any student while he was alive. In a room comprised of 30 women, it was both enlightening and empowering to see masculine movement embodied in a female context. Though we weren’t the first group of females to experience this solo, the world stood still for me during that hour. What an honor and responsibility we had in that moment. To learn the work of the founder of this place. To embody it as an individual 80 years later.

These moments – these deeply precious moments are reminding me that slowing down is totally allowed.

Accepting that when there’s nothing to do, it’s ok. The travel girl in me is itching to let herself out, but I keep reminding myself that this season of life is slow for a reason. Breathing. Reminding myself to breathe. Exhale. And take it all in.

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