Notes from the first two weeks of classes, part 5

I haven’t had very many actual dance classes yet, but during the ones that I have had, something rather amazing and unexpected has happened: I’ve been able to fall back on instinct. Usually this is something that only happens during ballet. After twenty years of occasionally rigorous training, my muscles have a lot of memory on which to fall back. Even without instructions from me, they know what positions they need to find and they know how to do it to music.

I’m not at that level in Javanese dance yet. The word improvisation still strikes fear into my soul. That said, it appears I have learned something. In the girls’ semester 3 class, the teacher started counting and my body fell into the proper movement on count six right along with everyone else. It actually gave me a little jolt of surprise. In the boys’ class, the same thing happened. I had no idea what move came next, but when the dance called for a standard 8-count step, my body fell right into it even while my mind was still worrying about having nothing memorized. In a gamelan class, I started doubling my peking part without any prompting, simply because I could feel that it needed to be doubled to work right.

I’ve had good teachers. My progress over the last two years has often moved at a crawl, but I have learned something. And I’m finally starting to see that.

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