A vintage Love Note from 2013 (plus a bit from a previous Love Note in that series for clarity).
Michael Pollan said, “Great art is born when Apollonian form and Dionysian ecstasy are held in balance, when our dreams of order and abandon come together.”
Apollo is the Greek god of music, poetry, plague, oracles, sun, medicine, light and knowledge. Dionysos is the god of wine, merry making, theatre, and ecstasy. Apollo is mind, Dionysus is body. We need both, in balance.
The order and knowledge of Apollo provide a container for the chaos and wildness of Dionysos. Apollo is the moves, and our attention to technique. He is stage presence, floor patterns, and structure. Dionysos is the glory of abandon, passion, intuition, and emotion. Technique alone is sterile. Abandon alone is self-indulgent.
Passion within the container of technique generates brilliant, compelling art.
So how do we get there?
The Three Prongs of Practice
(Thanks to Dunya for outlining this so succinctly)
When we dance, we have three main areas of practice.
1. Maintenance of the instrument. This is going to class, practicing technique, etc. We keep ourselves in shape, keep our instrument–that is, our body–running smoothly. We need to have the chops to do whatever our body might want–we need that technique to serve our expression. The more demanding our genre, the more attention this requires, and it pays to keep it up, which for many of us is difficult, since we may not have a nearby class. I think many of us use our 20 minutes for maintenance, though this is not its true purpose.
This is Apollo.
2. Rehearsal for performance. Not all of us perform, but many of us do, or want to. Plus just dancing for joy, for ourselves in our own space can be a performance (as opposed to practice). So when we perform, we need to practice specifically our performance elements. If it is choreography, obviously we practice that. If it is improv, we might listen to and explore our music, plan our use of the stage, block out certain sections, or develop our character’s backstory and movement quality.
This is Apollo.
3. Development of self as an artistic person. This is where the 90 Days 20 minute sessions of free improv comes in. Most training only gives us the previous two elements. We are taught to practice technique and prepare for performance, and that’s it. There is little to no provision for filling the well, for giving the body a free space to explore, discover, and revel, to move in unstructured freedom. We don’t practice technique so much as discover it anew; we allow ourselves to respond to the music without filters or judgement; we open ourselves to impulse and glory.
This is Dionysos.
We need them all. We just get a lot more opportunity to play with Apollo.
So this is for balance.
How is your balance? Email me or post below.
With all my love,
Here’s some very different music, which might be entirely suited to dance, but was so on point I had to go with it ; )