Thursday, January 26, 2012

Effortless Grace Takes Hours of Routine

I don't want to say too much leading into this post, because I want to let what follows below speak for itself. You'll see what I mean when you get there. But I will give you some background.

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 pliƩ. 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.


  1. What a nice tribute!

  2. Absolutely beautiful. In words he layed out the hard work and committment it takes to be a great dancer. Loved it.