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Reply To: Heroic Fear, Foolishness, and Creative Ecstasy”, with Leigh Melander, Ph.D.”


James, now I have rambled down a long and winding road (heh)…

Part of the reason, I waited to “jump-in,” was I remembered you were waiting to see other responses on a different thread (as well as here) like everyone 🙂

I tend to um “take off…” *wry grin,* when the subject matter is interesting.

So I do hope that your dream Minotaur/bull archetype is addressed for you! That’s why I mentioned a “Balrog,” not a bull creature exactly but still has horns and is in the underworld.

I think that fear of answering the “call” could be compared to facing a creature in a labyrinth or within the psyche’s dreams.
But Juan already responded to you, so clearly, nicely and concisely, I will just wait to see what Leigh might say on that…when she has time to dive into all these threads!

As for the dance, to me there does seem to be more freedom in modern dance than ballet. But it depends on the directors and choreographers of the companies as well.
The function that ballet performs as a “backbone” of dance goes beyond “the pretty lines.” Proper technique has a lot to do with injury prevention. Unless there is a case where the dancer/dancers are pushed too hard.
I found freedom of expression in other ways in dance (though I had both ballet and modern training)

Tap has been a joy and fun challenge in my life…so many adventures there!

And free form dance…or dancing to live bands.

I am a professional dancer/teacher/choreographer  but when dancing to live bands perhaps I appear “the rogue” “off the stage.” Because what I call free form others call on the spot choreography. But I do use proper band etiquette and if necessary dance off to the side unless everyone is up dancing in front of band…so I join them.
When younger, would jump right into the “rogue dancing.” That is kind of playing a “fool” of a sorts. There was mostly positive energy in response and sometimes little kids would mimic me…and once I found a girl who was dancing similarly so we “danced together,” this way. I do notice other people around. So sometimes pause and dance with them drawing in the crazy whirlwind of on the spot improv.
I found out later that some people when they saw me “felt embarrassed for me” when I was dancing this way mainly because I was “standing out,” or “standing out by myself.”

Well can’t say that I was bringing any virtuous boons to community beyond happy smiles. Ha ha. There were some.
But even in regular dance performance loved seeing people smile Not because they were giving me attention, but because of sharing something I loved…sharing that joy and seeing it reflected back.
There is such raw power and beauty in modern dance…Alvin Ailey performances have left me in tears.
And well a level 2 Horton Class at Ailey in the summer…don’t be fooled by that 2! But so much fun! And Graham too. Contraction (Graham) Lateral T (Horton.) And what a discovery to learn more of Jean Erdman! Brilliant woman!
Leigh, I have a feeling Joe Campbell would still be irascible today!

Though I might challenge him to left vs right brain in dance…

In my experience the Left picks up the steps. And the right remembers the routine. Oversimplification but I do know the right or the body-mind kicks in…especially when a wandering left brain jumps in like an analytical fool oh where am I? Right brain: don’t you dare! If left takes over there goes the step but body mind will perform it anyway without even thinking about it if one is lucky!
What Twyla Tharp and Jean Erdman did was participate fully in their own adventures. Being choreographers helped them make their own paths.
That is the challenge for a lot of dancers…sometimes it’s just about fighting and working hard “to get hired,” to get a “job,” “a show” a “gig” doing someone else’s choreography which is still wonderful fun!! But trying to survive in a city like NY in the meantime. Not easy! I admire and feel for all those artists!

The fear of failure…seems like that is also the fear of being “stamped” “defined,” as well as “scorned,” by that failure.
I wonder if someone chooses to put something creative out there if they fear

it will be mediocre? Or be judged that way? (Boring?) Or that they will look the “fool” as you said Leigh. Especially if Time is invested in answering the Call…there will be a pressure not to fail I think.

So rather than attending to the passions or the call of the heart they worry what “everyone else thinks.”

I remember what Campbell said about this.  Hehheh.

I’m learning my own lessons about educational dance videos in a “short attention span “Tik Tok” world. And dance video games!

Show don’t tell works well in literature but a little harder when one is concerned about preventing dance injuries or when it’s necessary to count a tricky rhythm ha ha.

Well enough of all this!
Great essay Leigh!