Over a year ago, I had participated in a master class blues workshop in which each of us were critiqued individually about our dancing by both the instructors and the other participants. We were then given tips on what improvements we could make and then were to dance in front of the audience again, this time keeping in mind these suggestions in order to see and feel how they could transform our dancing.
I learned so much from that workshop, but unexpectedly, one of the most memorable components of it was a dance by two student participants I had never met before- Patrick and Linda. They didn’t do anything particularly fancy or flashy in their dance, but their connection to each other and the music was so sweet and heartfelt. They took their time with each move, just as the music was taking its time with each new lyric or instrument. I still remember some of the fluid steps that Linda took passing over and around Patrick’s feet, and how Patrick waited for each of Linda’s steps to finish before he led her to something new. They both listened to each other and the music, gliding so smoothly with their subtle movements. I felt so changed by that moment, even though I couldn’t have explained why exactly at that time.
And after over a year has passed, I can now see how much that one creative, expressive moment led to so many others in my life and perhaps in Linda’s as well. The song they chose to dance to was “I’d Rather Go Blind,” by Etta James. Etta’s music and voice – one piece of artistic genius in itself- led to inspiring Linda and Patrick’s dance. Months later, I chose that song as a piece to work on with my vocal coach. It obviously had stood out in my mind just from that blues workshop, as I wasn’t familiar with it prior to that. That vocal coach introduced me to the deep and passionate Beyonce version, which, believe it or not, was done so well that it made me more emotional than the original, especially when I went out to get the movie based on Etta James’ story- Cadillac Records- and saw the scene attached to the song. I learned more about the infamous Etta James, I learned more about where the song’s emotion came from, and I was reminded once again about the power of art to inspire more art.
What a thrill it was to run into this same dancer Linda at a Blues event not too long ago. I introduced myself to her and shared with her what an impact her dance had on me, and how it led me to certain breakthroughs in my singing. And she shared this news with Patrick, who just last month came into town to teach and DJ in Vancouver. And guess which song they danced to? – ‘I’d Rather Go Blind,’ or course.
“I requested the song and asked him for the dance. It was lovely to come full circle again,” explained Linda.
Dance Me Free is so proud to share with all of you Linda’s thoughtful insights on what dance means to her today. She captures here so well the overwhelming passion she has for this art form- not just its highs, but also its lows. I would like to also thank her for sharing the TED Talk video attached below. What an amazing reminder of the power of movement. Thank you to our mutual dance friend Alexey for first posting this. This video is a must see. Again, another example of one art form – a video- inspiring another- Linda’s writing below. And the two together? Well, if nothing else, I hope they make you want to …dance :-).
“Dance has had an enormous and astonishing impact on my life, especially over the last year. It has been joyful, terrifying, strengthening, humbling and healing. It has been a year of growth and struggle. It has given me wings on flights to dizzying heights and the means to climb back up from unfathomable depths. I have been blessed with a wonderful ‘family of dancers’ who have accepted me and my stumbling efforts with grace, humor and encouragement on and off the dance floor. While I do not fully understand this phenomenal ongoing experience, this video expresses a lot and was actually what inspired me to share these thoughts about dance. To my non-dancing friends, perhaps this will clarify what I have been babbling about all this time.”
-Linda Strathdee (Vancouver, BC)