Back when I began blogging, I chose the above image for my first post.
Because though I’m not technically skilled, or even coordinated enough for beyond basic choreography, in my heart I am a dancer.
When the right note of music hits me –at almost anytime– I must move my body to the beat. It’s how I get connected in mind, body and soul.
So when I find a kindred spirit, moving through this rhythm of life — immersed in the connection — I want to go where she’s going…I want to dance with her.
Chloe Carlson is one of those kindred spirits, a true dancing soul.
Her amazing Enchantment Project, Sirena Tales, is where she so eloquently shares her passion for dance (and that’s just the beginning–> she’s pursuing many passions, all of which are written about on her blog).
I’ve asked Chloe to answer a few questions here. Perhaps she’ll spark some curiosity around dance, or even better… she’ll lead you towards the next step.
EL: Why do you dance?
CC: So many reasons! But the main one is that I feel most alive when I dance. At this point, dancing is an artistic, physical, mental and spiritual practice for me.
EL: Why did you become a dance instructor?
CC: I’ve wanted to share my passion with others and to “give back,” as so many amazing teachers have done for me. Teaching also allows me to create movement and communicate with it to others, kind of a dialogue that I start and then create collaboratively. And, as you know from your own teaching, there is no better way to dig deeply into something than teaching it to someone else. It helps me understand my own movement more.
EL: Please describe your class.
CC: I teach modern/contemporary dance technique. I have taught all age groups, but lately have focused on teaching adults, e.g. 20s-50s, generally at the intermediate or advanced level. I hope an outsider would experience senses of joy, encouragement, humor, vigorous, full movement that is often off-center from an upright stance, and sweeping use of the space—everything from handstands and being on the floor to leaps.
EL: Aside from teaching, where else is dancing in your life?
CC: I also perform and choreograph. Currently, I perform with a company and on a solo basis. Previously, I directed a small dance company and performed with other companies. I write about dance in my blog and am pursuing a project of public art that involves dancers dancing solo in public spaces, e.g. crosswalks and highway service areas. I seek to integrate dance in everyday life. I also love to encourage people to dance, so I often give people information about classes and events they might enjoy—kind of a free agent clearinghouse :).
EL: Where do you pull your inspiration to choreograph?
CC: A variety of sources. Music often inspires me, transporting me to a creative place that helps me generate movement. I also have been inspired to explore certain themes, everything from my experiences as a mom to medieval history, which I studied in college. Taking someone else’s dance class frequently spurs creativity, helping me to riff off of their movement or energy. And I almost always get inspired when I am cooking. A number of dishes have been burned when I’ve gotten distracted and gone into dance mode, completely forgetting about what is on the stove :).
EL: How does it feel to perform your dances to an audience?
CC: Terrifying—“what if they hate it/don’t connect to it?!”; thrilling—something I care deeply about is being witnessed; gratifying—when people have been moved or inspired by what I have offered
EL: How do you guide your students to express themselves through movement?
CC: I begin classes with a reminder that a main goal of the class is for dancers to explore their own artistic goals, to express themselves creatively. Throughout class I remind folks of that goal and articulate what the “nuggets” of the dance phrases are, so that they may focus on those nuggets or ideas (e.g. a sense of suspending and falling like waves) rather than on getting specific steps but missing expressing themselves. I emphasize that it is a class in an artistic form, and generally try to keep the atmosphere playful and supportive so people will take risks.
EL: Is it necessary to have training to dance?
CC: No, not at all. You can dance anytime, anywhere. But taking classes expands your movement options, exposing you to things you might not otherwise have thought of, as well as how to do those moves safely. As a novice student said to me the other night, she never realized all the cool movement she could do with her body, and she can’t wait to learn more.
EL: How does dancing effect your mind, body and soul?
CC: Dancing energizes all of you, even as it gives you a healthy physical, mental, and soulful workout. Learning new movement keeps your brain activated and vibrant, as well as your body and soul. Dancing expands your sense of possibility, while grounding you and providing all the benefits of a “practice.”
EL: Can you explain using dance as a creative outlet?
CC: Well, it is a form of communication, so you can express kinetically all that you might otherwise express verbally or visually or musically—a full range of emotion, experience, imagination.
Trying on someone else’s movement can spark your creativity, help you see yourself in a new light.
EL: How would you advise someone who wants to start dancing—are classes necessary?
CC: For the reasons stated above dance classes are very valuable, plus dancing in a social setting helps drive your energy and inspire you. You pick up ideas and vibes from the others and feel like part of a “moving” community—something that can be incredibly rewarding and heartening. I search online for classes and ask around of other dancers for suggestions. You can also check dance studios, YWCAs and YMCAs, churches, dance wear stores, colleges, local continuing education, for fliers of local classes. I would urge folks to assess their current physical state as accurately as possible, e.g. if you haven’t been moving much in a long time, start with a beginner or “all levels” class. Definitely talk with the instructor about your goals and past experience. If it doesn’t make you feel terrific or challenged in an exciting way, try a different class :).
Thank you, Chloe!
Checkout Sirena Tales here!