For the Orlando International Fringe Festival last year, the company I dance with, Emotions Dance, performed a show entitled "Excerpts," which included several pieces we had performed in previous shows that were now in our repertoire. Some of these pieces came from a show we performed called "Poetry in Motion," where we collaborated with local musicians and spoken word artists to put together a show that highlighted more than one art-form.
One of the spoken word artists that we had the honor of working with, and who rejoined us for the Fringe Festival was Curtis X Meyer. I was privileged enough to perform a solo alongside his performance of a poem called "Elegy for Les Paul."
In May of last year, Curtis wrote the poem below, entitled "Effortless Grace Takes Hours of Routine" and blew my mind. I joke that I feel like a Shakespearean muse, to be included in a poem so beautiful, but truthfully I've never felt so honored.
I strongly encourage you to google Curtis's work. You'll find him under Curtis X Meyer through any search medium (Google, Youtube, Twitter, etc.) And if you're in the Central Florida area and have the opportunity to see him perform, I highly recommend you go. I promise you, you will thank me :)
But, that's far more than enough of me talking. Find Curtis's poem below.
Effortless Grace Takes Hours of Routine
Copyright © 2011 By Curtis X Meyer
"For the women of Emotions Dance Company"
I have never seen the battlefield, young boys
made men in the face of certain death, so much dust
and testosterone; explosions echoing the drum in one’s jugular
born of impossible surges of adrenaline, charging
like Roman armies throughout one’s veins. But I have seen
dancers carry poise like a gun over their shoulder, women
who know how to turn posture into a weapon. Women,
who when they collapse look half-dead, soldiers
shaking post-traumatic – the part the audience doesn’t get
to see once they skip backstage. I have been
in this dance studio practicing for our production
in which I perform poems to a musical backdrop
as they twirl and gallop in front of me, offering
choreographed interpretation. Here at rehearsal
after completing another bit, the hands of Amanda and Dionne
grip the support bar like a life preserver, each panting
as if in labor about to give birth to a whole litter, arms and cheeks
red as the face of a man who’s just swam the length of the Atlantic
to dodge the flames of the shipwreck. Training without shoes,
Amanda’s feet look like a coalminer’s lungs. And I
can’t help but feel like a fraud, as I recite some trite words
and stanzas, struggle to memorize my cues to pause
so they can have their solos – tornadoing, standing
on one foot balancing on their heads and limbs families,
boyfriends, classes, and day jobs like rods supporting plates.
The first day I came in to rehearse with Stephanie, I saw
a black racer on the shores of a nearby lake lunge
at a resting leopard frog and miss. Hours later, I knew
what it was like to have a mouth unable to keep up
with speed and strength of legs the length of progress.
I told Scott part of me’s always wanted to pursue ballet
ever since my sister’s junior recital. When I said I’d prefer
to know its movements to breakdancing, explained
that through muscle control, all dance is a form
of pop n’ lock, he laughed as I fumbled a sloppy attempt
at a cross-legged plié. How could you not
admire the leaps of gazelles, the discipline
of statues? How can you warm yourself by fire and not
stand envious those who mirror its flickers, marvel in respect
of this temporary capsule full of flesh and fluid shifting, a body
pushed to its limits? How can you not stand in awe of a man
lifting a 200-pound woman over his head, held aloft by a single toe?
If you have never suffered for your art,
you have no idea what art is. When the doctors
told Stephanie she’d need months off to recover
from the car crash, I knew whatever pain
she was going through was mere annoyance
compared to the frustration of being unable
to take stage, the same way I’d go crazy
if someone told me to take half a year off
from writing. Ladies, when they say it looks easy,
say effortless grace takes hours of routine. When they ask
why you train in front of mirrors, tell them it’s because
they’re the only judges harsher than gravity. When they call you
frail and petite, spin around their minefields of criticism
like dolphins navigating columns of bubbles. Dare the wind
to try to catch you. For every bruise they can’t see beyond the borders
of your costume amassed fighting off barrooms of invisible ninjas
with your high-kicks, remember, every callus is necessary en route to
the final bow. They will call you timid, weak. You are nothing
if but warriors.