The rhythm of things

I believe having an honest relationship with time is a key to the universe. 


Last year, Loretta Livingston (choreographer) asked a question in an artist talk: 

             "What does it feel like to be you?"

I almost always feel rushed. Like I never quite have enough time- not enough time to process what is happening, never enough time to feel the true rhythm of my body. My natural rhythm is really slow. Slow twitch not fast twitch. My cycles are longer- sometimes I think my default is (at least) a 25 hour clock, rather than a 24 hour clock. During the summer, I stay awake a little longer every day, until I get to the point where I have to reset my clock by staying up all night so that I will be tired enough to go to bed "on time" to function on a normal work day schedule. "Bed time" always comes too soon for me (which drove my parents crazy when I was younger). I don't actually even know how long my cycles are because I have rarely been able to take my time. I am always running late or feeling like I am holding people up, and the pressure of other people waiting overrides my desire to take my time. 

Time is rarely on my side. 

I have become quite resentful about clocks. I feel that learning to tell time taught me to believe that the passing of time is constant, that it is something ordered and regulate-able. I have been trained to give priority to what the clock says, over other ways of marking time, and for a long time, I thought that telling time and experiencing time were the same thing. I would try to fit my experience of time passing to the number on the clock, and it was confusing when it would pass slower or faster than what I was feeling. 

But the beauty of things not making sense is that there is an opportunity for gaining knowledge- understanding beyond what is already known. 

A few years ago, I was in Italy working with Lenka Flory and Simone Sandroni of Deja Donne Dance. This was for "Woman's Work: Reconstructions of Self," a solo commissioning project I conceived, curated and performed. It was important to me to be able to spend more time in the creation process. 

(In modern dance, commissions are usually completed in 7-10 days due to money and scheduling issues, which means that the process is truncated, with little time to develop the work with the dancers. The work is often placed on top of them rather than in collaboration, which means the work does not necessarily reflect the individuality of the performers.)

So for Woman's Work, I worked with each choreographer for one month, and we were able to engage in a deeper process, which was reflected in each of the pieces that were created. It felt indulgent to take this kind of time- it was so outside of my experience to have the luxury to let things unfold. It doesn't mean that we were not aware of the schedule, but we had more space to respond to the actual process rather than having to push through to the product. 

I don't have much practice taking my time; time has always felt like an adversary.

The value of the process in Italy extended beyond working in the studio because nothing exists in a vacuum - everything affects everything. Taking time with the artistic process spilled over into taking my time to eat, taking my time to warm-up, taking my time starting my day, and taking my time getting ready for bed. 

I realized that I often felt like I was living in the front of my body, always pulling forward to meet time. Having the luxury of time allowed my body to catch up, and for the first time I was able to feel how much time I need to wake-up. About an hour. I experienced how long it takes for me to warm-up before dancing and prepare for rehearsal. About 2 hours. I also learned what I need to do to warm-up, rather than what I have been taught to do to warm-up. I learned how much time I need to wind-down at the end of the day so that I can feel ready for bed. About 2 hours of quiet time. That's five hours a day! Add in rehearsal - 4-6 hours- and eating - about 4 hours between breakfast lunch and dinner, and suddenly I had a different perspective on how much I can actually accomplish with integrity in one day. 


Now I am thinking about the words I have used when I think about taking my time- words like "indulgent" and "luxury." Like it is a want and not a need. As if taking longer somehow is analogous to lack of industry or laziness, aka bad. 

But it is a necessity, understanding my personal rhythm, because that helps me understand that everything has a relationship to time that is independent of mine. Learning that time is marked by more than a clock. Using my experience and sensation to help me determine the rhythm of things, sensitizing to the inherent cycles that are already in motion. Feeling how time moves differently in different situations, processes or organisms; that it is situation specific, rather than universal. Developing an awareness of what affects my experience of how time moves- when it speeds up or slows down, so that my relationship with time is no longer adversarial.

So that I can have an honest relationship with time.