When I started thinking about what to write here, I realized that in every Dance Matters I’ve been involved in, except for the very first -- which was one of the very first Dance Matters shows ever – I have performed very personal, intimate works where I felt more exposed and autobiographic than usual.
I have a rambling imagination. I always have. I was an anxious kid because I could always imagine all the possibilities and could not rein in vivid sensations of the worst-case scenarios. It could be paralyzing. It was paralyzing. It made me shy and hesitant to interact with anything other than my imagination.
When I create, I often have to make big restrictions on myself in order to get anything done, in order not to be paralyzed by the possibilities. And yet I place the most importance on my imagination, ever curious, ever expanding, in my development as a dancer and creator.
“I can only do this much” emerged as a choreographic idea about five years ago. My husband and our toddler and I were living in a beautiful apartment, but starting to feel cramped. I was trying to create in our living room, which was covered in those ubiquitous interlocking foam floor mats. You know the kind – they are in every school, day care, dance studio and home with children it seems. They are impossible to dance on -- but have really good padding for impromptu Pilates sessions! I was trying to create in 10-minute chunks between errands or before naps ended or amongst a million other things I’d been avoiding doing.
I made this dance film around the same time, working with the restriction of the giant panel of window in our apartment and just one vantage point, feeling the November urge to remain indoors, and already the cabin fever of winter.
What if I only have a window?
What if I can only move this much? What do I have worth saying about just this, or just that?
I come back to this idea for Dance Matters now because the feeling of physical and mental restriction is increasing. I feel stretched even more expansively, and also fragmented and compartmentalized.
We don’t use the interlocking mats anymore now that we have a house and a 7 year-old. I choreograph in a tiny office space when I can’t afford studio rentals. I choreograph in my head on the subway. I rehearse during breaks in other people’s rehearsals, I rehearse in the muddy parking lot when I’m early at call time for that crazy Casa Loma ‘Legends of Horror’ show in which I am playing a ghost.
Life gives me the circumstances that reinforce and illuminate the original spark of inspiration.
Shortly after we moved into our house I made this film, also about restriction. Wearing four-inch heels in a low-ceilinged basement, again with a narrow vantage point and for part of the time a restrictive tube dress. I didn’t realize then that I was revisiting a theme…what if I can only do this much?
So “ I can only do this much” is about those bloody floor mats and about limitations and constrictions and rage at my own sporadic lethargy as much as at my irrepressible inner Energizer Bunny.
In a spurt of 5 minutes on the subway I wrote these thoughts about what “I can only do this much” might be.
Feeling the floor under you
And when it disappears
Is it nonsense to struggle with being an artist when my life is biologically dedicated to protecting a life, a little soul?
Good enough is enough. (Thank you Jenn Goodwin!)
I’m not making a work about being an artist or the struggle to create. I hope it’s something more. Doesn’t everyone feel this way? Full and splintered at once?
How do we reconcile all the pieces, all the bits of ourselves with the minor rages and the profound acts of cruelty the world serves up without maliciousness?
“I can only do this much” might be about all of this or none of this. When you come to the show, if you see the plight of a three-eyed aquatic alien or an adaptation of a William Faulkner short story, please let me know. All interpretations are correct and ever-so welcome.
Photos of Lucy Rupert by Craig Chambers