This past weekend I attended my hometown’s May Fair, a huge street festival of food, music, arts, and crafts. I always go into these types of things with the same mentality:
Don’t buy anything unless it speaks to you.
There is a fine line between being intrigued by something and being utterly captivated.
With the former, you can admire it, sigh, appreciate its worth, hold it in your hands, imagine it hanging in your house or adorning your neck. When you put the item back on the table, there may be some resistance, but you can still walk away confident with the decision to do so.
With the latter, there is an instant connection. The moment you hold up the print or try on the bracelet, there is a conversation. The art is speaking to you. Some invisible line of energy connects the intention behind the work to your brain and heart, and suddenly you feel One with this object in front of you. It is not just a portrait; it is part of you. Putting the artwork back on the display table feels like betrayal, and you can’t help but step back and pick it up again. The notion of walking away without this art becomes unbearable, and you cry out, “I’ll take it!” without even looking at the price tag on its underside.
The first item that had me under its spell was this torched copper dancer. It was only available as a pin, but at my request, the artist looped a cord through the backside and instantly transformed it into a pendant.
I had been looking for a long time for a pendant that represented the essence of 5Rhythms, and this just shouted to me loud and clear. I love how the chemistry behind heating the copper brings out so many colors. It’s one body filled with so much…stuff. The five rhythms are swirling inside of her.
My heart skipped a beat again when I passed a vendor selling prints of vintage photos. Two of them instantly called out to me, and I picked them out of the milk crate they resided in without even hesitating.
The images are part of a collection of photos of the National American Ballet taken in the 1920s (archived in the Library of Congress). To tell you the truth, they aren’t the best-quality prints, but I wasn’t at all interested in the technical aspects of photography or reprinting; it was the emotion in the dancers’ bodies that drew me in and took my breath away.
When I looked at those women, I saw me. I rarely dance with mirrors anymore, but I am confident that my body is filled with that kind of rapture in those precious moments in 5Rhythms when Chaos winds down and Lyrical takes effect. In fact, the vendor selling these prints titled the bottom portrait “Joy” and the top one “Bliss.” I probably would have given them the same names myself.
There is so much I love about these images. In the top image, the dancer is connecting with earth and sky and everything around her. It is indeed Bliss. In the bottom portrait, the woman’s expression is both ecstatic and yet somewhat pained, yet the artist gave it the title “Joy.” I like to envision that this woman was captured during the very moment she danced the devil off her back (to quote Florence), simultaneously letting go of something that pinned her down and breathing in a new kind of freedom.
I also love that these are ballet dancers, but they are barefoot with regular-sized bodies. Their physique is so different than what we see in today’s ballerinas: chiseled, waif-like, rigid. Not that I don’t like 21st-century ballet, but I connect so much more with the liberation portrayed in these images from nearly 90 years ago.
I imagine these liberated dancers landing back on the ground, rolling into the grass and picking dandelions. When I look at these photos, I see myself at the pinnacle of my dancing frenzy, 100% nourished and fulfilled, one millisecond caught in time but a moment I want to extend into 1 minute…1 hour…1 day…1 month…1 year…1 lifetime.