On Quickly Escaping, or Dance Dance Dance

Virginia Woolf, in her diary, reflected on dance and music in a way that I believe I have not yet seen these topics treated in such manners. She doesn’t compare these arts with others, nor does she denote the poetry that exists in them, as most of those who write about music and dance do (and at no time, it is good to point out, she doesn’t deny the existence of the poetic soul of these arts); what Woolf does is to describe pure sensations of the perception she has in experiencing music and dance. She claims music and dance are magical things, not in its lyrical sense, but because of the effects caused in her body while being carried away by sounds and movements. It is as if the idea of “magic” was transformed, almost literally, into reality when we give ourselves to the dance. Virginia says that music for dancing makes you forget about centuries of history, while you let yourself spin round and round through the feelings it gives us.

I had a dance teacher, as a child, who once told me that the rulers had no idea of ​​the weapon they had in their hands — dance — to counterattack the proliferation of drugs among youth, that if one really wanted to understand the ecstasy that certain drugs can cause on a person’s body, just letting people fall in love with music could be enough. I didn’t quite understand, until today, why he was telling me those things, I was really a child and couldn’t have assimilated all this correctly. But now I can see exactly where those opinions came from, when I stop to analyze the eccentricity of this man — he lived in a place that we, his students, used to call “The Cave” inside the school: a roomy and dark room, illuminated only by daylight, with walls covered in stones, containing a small bed, a bookshelf, various musical instruments, and a large shelf with snakes in several glass cases. It was something out of old Grimm Brothers illustrations. We didn’t know that time, and to this day I still don’t know why he lived inside the school. I discovered, before leaving this school, that he was a sort of a “pothead” (as his fame dictated) and had weed plantations inside of his room. It was one of those figures that we find in life, which marks us deeply, and that only after years and years will they undergo a process of rebirth within us, and its importance will be highlighted.

Apart from that, this teacher always showed his total devotion to all styles of music and dance. The strongest memory I have of what I learned from him is that of a performance of a dance number that really could only have come out of his brilliant mind. He choreographed a dance that was a mixture of all the artistic movements that can possibly be imagined, to be presented to the Beatles’ Twist and Shout. His genius has made this a harmonious, entertaining number that will surely be one of my favorite memories of my experience with dance. The recollection of this moment made me understand the reading of this passage in the diaries of the English writer. More than any effect that dance can have on our lives, in every sense of what it is to live, this momentary sensation of forgetting everything — history, experiences, memories and feelings is perhaps the translation of Woolf to what my teacher has aimed to convey me with his words of revolution.

Everyone is always trying to escape, and there are so many ways to do it that it strikes me that we are not able to understand why people like this or that; we are, on the contrary, always ready to judge the choices that those around us make, choices that signify their unique ways of dealing with the ‘out-of-reality’. Dance is just another one of them. It may be healthier than others, more recommendable than others in the sense of maintaining a balance between body and soul, but it may also be that this is the healthiest form exclusively for those who are adept to it, as it is possible to be, differing from the vision of what is healthier for others. As Woolf said, we only want to forget everything, even for a short period of time, and let our hearts rise, through whatever capacity we may have of doing it, with our bodies and souls carelessly, madly free, before the dark of night turn into the pale light of dawn.

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