Thursday, August 21, 2008

let's make art

       Today, Colt, Hollie, and I taught a master class at a huge sports club here in Costa Mesa--or maybe it was Anahiem, or maybe even Santa Ana...Actually, now that I think about it, L.A. was in the title of the gym, but I am pretty sure we weren't in L.A.--shabby geographical skills and all.  Well, wherever it was, the club was gorgeous and huge--really, it was the size of a whole corporate building.  Actually, maybe it was its own city--which could explain why I am not sure where it was.  But truly, it was the nicest, most beautiful gym that I have ever seen.

    And it had advertised, Come workout with the cast of Broadway's A Chorus Line!

     So not knowing at all what to expect, we got there ready to teach a class.  It was called "dance-fitness," which we took to mean that we could basically do what we wanted--as long as it involved ACL, of course.  

     And actually there were quite a few women who took the class--the studio was large, and it was packed (I am terrible with numbers, so I am not even going to try to tell you how many were there).  They were from all walks of life--some dancers, some not; some younger, some not.  But, they were all very excited to learn.

    We jumped right into it.  I led a 20 minute warm-up that was more dance than fitness, per se--but really, for our purposes, those are interchangeable.  We got down on the floor for Hollie to lead some ab work, leg-lifts, and push-ups (an old throw-back to our hour-long warm-ups with Baayork Lee in the 42nd Street studios ).  And then, we jumped into teaching them the opening jazz combo from the show.  And let me just say that this combination is by no means easy.  Or feel-good.  Or relaxing.  Or a breeze.  It's hard work--even now for me, three months later.  It still feels like this big hill I have to gear up to climb over, and I still feel sweet relief once it has been successfully climbed.  And here's the thing, that hill reappears the next day, and the next.  But, back to the class.

   These women just threw themselves into the movement; I mean, they were nothing if not enthusiastic.  At one point, we were encouraging them just to dance and go for it and yada yada yada when one distinguished looking woman raised her hand, cleared her throat, and said, Some of us are not dancers; some of us are real estate agents. Well, we all just cracked up at this--and again, we told her to do her very best and have fun (which we could tell she was already doing).  

    We taught them about 3 measures of the choreography, and they did great.  Honestly, we had just as much fun as they did.  At the end, we did the entire combination to the music for them, which they appreciated.  And during the whole class there were news crews filming it and taking stills.  Also, after the class, we were interviewed, one at time, in front of the camera.  This made me a little nervous at first cause you have no idea what they are gonna throw at you and you can only hope you don't sound like an idiot or worse, but once it actually happened, I was fine.  In fact, I think I like being interviewed.  Who'd have thought?  They also took a bunch of pics with us, which I may or may not ever see.  

    The whole thing was really rewarding.  Also, the marketing guy for our production company has asked me to write some blogs for the Orange County Register--as well as something in Boston.  So, I think that you can find me on the OC Register on-line, which is cool.  Oh, but don't expect to find anything new there--last night's blog entry was basically homework for that assignment (can you fault me for killing two birds with one stone?  Not that I approve the killing of birds, in general. Wait, I eat chicken--so maybe I do...).  They had asked me to blog about touring, so that is what I came up with.  

   And here's the thing: I LOVE making dance accessible.  I love seeing people--yes, even real estate agents!--do something that they haven't done before, maybe even had thought was impossible, and find that they can do it.  Sure, not perfectly at first.  Maybe it feels a little awkward in the beginning--but what on this earth is truly valuable that does not involve hard work?  And the more work you invest in it, the more precious it becomes.  I loved seeing the way confidence and joy reshapes a countenance; I love being a part of it.  It's a noble thing to pass on something--anything--beautiful to another person.  And here is this iconic, American masterpiece--a piece of theater's history--that now belongs to some women here in California, as well as to me.  

   Art is not just for the few, it is for the masses.  Which reminds me of this quote from a book, Art & Fear, that I love (it's heavily paraphrased, since I am pulling it from memory):

   A college professor of art was leaving the house one day, being trailed by his four year old daughter.  Trying to prolong his departure, she asked him why he had to leave.  He simply said, Because I have to teach adults how to draw.  She looked at him for a while, pondering what he said, and finally, incredulously asked, You mean, they forgot?!?!

   To children, the making of art in many different forms is just natural. It's what they do.  As we get older, that inclination gets pushed away until we are numb to it--or barely recognize it if we are lucky enough to feel it.  And we stop making art.  I guess my point is that it was just really nice to encourage these adult women to make art--to dance; to forget about inhibition or what we tell ourselves we "do" and "don't do" and simply move.  It's part of our inheritance as humans, as creations of the Creator--we need to make stuff.  All kinds of stuff.  And today I--along with some pretty gutsy ladies--made some art.  

   I loved it.



Michele said...

Haha, Jess - the real estate lady's comment sounds like something I might say :)

kathiek said...

Jess, the next time you check out PJ's blog, scroll down a bit on the right. He has a link to articles about you. There is a newspaper article (complete with a picture of you and a quote) about your OC class.

semi anonymous said...

I think your previous blog was very entertaining and polished, it would be perfect for publishing to a wider readership. YAY home schooling! and yay you.

And what a fabulous experience for you at whatever gym you were at. There is nothing better than living your passion except for sharing that enthusiasm with others.

Jessica Latshaw said...

Michele--exactly! I could always rely on you to lighten the mood in pilates!

And, Kathie--I will check that out--I haven't seen that article yet; should be interesting!

Semi-anon--thank you for the compliment; and I agree with your closing sentiment:-)