“When you hear the word “dancer,” what is the first image that comes to mind? Is it a woman in the peak of her beauty dancing in nature? Now take that same image and see the woman in her sixties. Can you? “
When I was in my 20’s and living in NYC I went to see a program of Isadora Duncan solos presented by Annabelle Gamson with dancers she was mentoring. Much to my surprise, the performer I admired the most that evening for her full commitment to the movement and music, for taking a chance with throwing her body into a full- blown swing and for celebrating every moment as it was created and then gone…was the 60-year old Annabelle Gamson dressed in a Greek tunic, barefoot, and with flying white hair trailing behind her.
She was breathtaking. The word “goddess” came to mind. She was my example of how I could age as a dancer. No apologies, no obvious adjustments to dancing, no being “careful” in a performance for fear of injury to an older body, simply…no fear. Born in 1928 she is still with us. I have not heard anything about her in a long time, but given how busy we all are these days this is no surprise.
What I learned from watching her is that there are styles of dance and movement which allow for the individual to be as perfect as they are. There is no such thing as an unattainable ideal. The ideal lives within the individual and is unique to that person. Embracing what is God-given from birth, loving this gift and learning how to make the gift shine and, in turn, offering this gift to others could be the meaning of why we are here.
But…as a dancer… it is horrifying to confront the aging of the body. All movement is no longer possible.
What is possible? Gradually one discovers that as a performer one has refined expression in movement. The days of shocking the audience with physical feats may be over but the ability to take the audience to a spiritual place or a cathartic cry is now closer to one’s fingertips. The poetry of the dance is always possible and one performs that poetry with conviction. Somehow one rises above any physical challenge.
The secret to continuing as a dancer is the same secret as ageless beauty…be in the moment and embrace life. Admit that change is here to stay and flow with the music of those changes. Emphasize what is here and growing and forget about what is lost and never returning or you will fall behind the beat. Yes, there is sadness and loss. Feel that pain deeply…and then go on.
An open mind expands the universe and offers new possibilities. Sometimes you are the one to take a new idea forward and sometimes you are the person to open this channel for another. Find the wisdom to see. Breathe and go with the wind. It is your inner beauty which is now growing and the light of this beauty is the ageless beauty you always admired but did not understand until now.