Don't Judge, Just Dance

This week, Boston Ballet hosts its first-ever Choreographic Intensive in Marblehead, MA. Student Leah Hirsch will be blogging daily from the Intensive for Pointe. Read Leah's first entry here, and stay tuned for more!

 

Fear is often inevitable when stepping into the unknown. But with conviction and maturity, a dancer can put fear squarely in the back seat.
 
As I got ready for the first day of the Boston Ballet's Choreographic Intensive, I was thrilled by the prospect of working with Helen Pickett. My initial motivation in coming to this intensive was to force myself out of my comfort zone, out of that "ballet box." I thought that by familiarizing my body with contemporary choreography I would lose all my previous inhibitions. But today I learned the most by simply listening.

Ms. Pickett taught us that we can't let fear hold back our talent. The fear of looking stupid, the fear of forgetting specific choreography, the fear of being inadequate--they all disrupt a dancer's ability to be fully engaged. It's the personal connection to a dance that truly defines a professional dancer, whether that person is an experienced performer or not. To the saying, “Don't think, just dance,” Ms. Pickett replies, "Don't judge, just dance."
 
I tried to apply what Ms. Pickett said during the choreographic portion of our schedule. She taught us a phrase of five or six counts of eight. The piece was incredibly internal--our hands were constantly in direct contact with our lower bodies and legs. The movement appeared to flow effortlessly when Ms. Pickett danced; she seemed to completely lose herself in it. When I began, I realized that I was able to take bigger risks when I was completely engaged in the choreography. The moment I second-guessed myself, the overall energy of the piece dwindled.

Ms. Pickett then asked us to take the basic phrase and re-interpret it as a solo, a duet, a trio, etc.--basically, to deconstruct it. As she pointed out, that process of deconstructing is choreographing. Choreography is not just about pulling movement from thin air; it can also be redefining steps in a non-conventional way. Movement is endless.
 
I can't wait to see what's in store for us on Tuesday!