About the Corporal Culture Blog

Hi. My name is Lucas Threefoot, and I currently dance with Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, an organization based in the south of France, in the little principality of Monaco. I started dancing when I was four in Portland, Oregon, and I haven’t stopped since. LeIMG_2600arning ballet’s rules and strategies for movement has been, so far, my biggest pursuit in dance, but lately I’ve become very interested in the overall structure of the world of ballet.

Ballet companies, the backbones of this structure, are the result of art, entertainment, and business all colliding with each other in the modern world, and the people working in these companies often work in unique ways from the rest of the world to accomplish their various – often conflicting – goals. What interests me, then, are the social dynamics that
occur in our corporal culture as a result of these many forces on the world of ballet.

Here is an exploration of the encounters we dancers have during our everyday lives – in the studio, on stage, and outside. This is a sounding board for my attempts to make sense of the world I live in, and to encourage conversation from any and all of you that certainly have your own perspective in these matters. Dance culture is unique in its own right, but I think it is an institution that has plenty to learn from the outside world.

If this interests you, and you want to explore these topics and relate these ideas to your own, subscribe by hitting the “Follow” button below!

 

2 thoughts on “About the Corporal Culture Blog

  1. We haven’t met but I’ve seen your picture on the wall and heard tell of you from two of your biggest fans, not counting Tobey (sp?).

    For the record, I do suck at dancing. But also for the record, I am a writer and sometimes I suck at that too. Which I think goes to your point.

    I found your blog provocative in the best sense, meaning it got me thinking — not about dancing per se, but about how images of dance and your rumination on dance apply to other art forms, including writing. My mind went first to the famous last lines of Yeats’s poem, “Among School Children”:

    O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
    How can we know the dancer from the dance?

    Or, when things are going right, the singer from the song, the fiddler from the tune, the teller from the tale, the chef from the dish, the pray-er from the prayer.

    Or the basketball player from his on-court moves. If you missed it, check out this front-page story from the Nov. 25, 2015, New York Times. Taras Dimitro, a principal dancer from the San Francisco Ballet, and Graham Lustig, artistic director of the Oakland Ballet Company, talk about becoming basketball fans after watching Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry work his magic. “Steph doesn’t really look like he’s putting in a lot of effort, does he?” Lustig said. “I’m not suggesting at all that he doesn’t use effort. It’s just that he doesn’t display it, and I think that’s probably at the core of what this is about.”

    Lustig marvels at the way Curry throws himself into the air, keeps control of the ball and himself — and lands. “And he’s not even trying to do something beautiful. His coach isn’t telling him how to land, but he does. It’s innate. His whole body knows what to do both in the air and in the return.”

    “There’s a certain sense of musicality to the way his body works,” Lustig said of Steph Curry. “It looks like he’s moving in a slightly different dimension as everyone else, and I think that ties into his sheer speed and power and control — incredible, unbelievable control. And that’s what you want in a dancer.”

    Here’s a link to that NYT story: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/25/sports/basketball/artistry-of-stephen-curry-with-golden-state-warriors.html?_r=0

    If you’re a dancer, or even a writer who sucks at dancing, one leap leads to another, and a lot of unlike things can start to resemble each other and lead somewhere. I thought also, believe it or not, of the poet John Keats.

    Keats wrote his publisher a letter in 1818, after his latest book, Endymion, had been criticized harshly in reviews. Keats was 22 years old:

    “It is as good as I had power to make it—by myself—Had I been nervous about its being a perfect piece, & with that view asked advice, & trembled over every page, it would not have been written…That which is creative must create itself — In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the Sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands & the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a silly pipe, and took tea & comfortable advice.”

    And just today, I received an email from the fine literary magazine, “Ploughshares” which highlighted an essay called “Why Bother With Craft?” and directed readers to “study authors like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Maggie Nelson and Lidia Yuknavitch who master the art of writing about the body.” I thought of your blog.

    I collect what I consider inspirational or insightful quotations about writing. Not all are from writers, or technically about writing. Here are a few examples that seem relevant to your blog:

    I believe in not quite knowing. A writer needs to be doubtful, questioning. I write out of curiosity and bewilderment…I’ve learned a lot I could not have learned if I were not a writer.

    — William Trevor

    Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.”

    — Wislawa Szymborska, accepting her Nobel Prize for Literature

    If I knew how to write a poem, I wouldn’t.

    — James Galvin, poet

    Even among the insects of this world, some sing well, some don’t.

    — Issa, Japanese poet (1763-1828)

    Voom is so hard to get. You never saw anything like it I bet.

    — Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

    If I’m painting and suddenly start to think, everything goes to hell.

    — Cezanne

    I can’t hit and think at the same time.

    — Yogi Berra, famous for swinging at bad pitches — and hitting them

    I thought, `Skate…just skate.’ It seems like I had to quit caring too much to skate my best.

    — Dan Jansen, after winning the 1994 Olympic speed skating gold medal in his final race after many disappointing finishes in three Olympics

    Writer’s block? Lower your standards and keep writing.
    
 — William Stafford, poet
    There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

    — Somerset Maugham

    Every attempt is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure.

    — T.S. Eliot

    No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

    — Samuel Beckett

    I hope you find these interesting, Lucas, and don’t think I’ve run completely off the tracks. Admittedly, some of them require a leap. But that’s smack in your line of work, right?

    Cheers and thanks,

    Don

    Like

    1. Yes, Don! You point out what I hope becomes clear after a while on my blog: the pursuit of perfection in dance is intricately related to many other human pursuits, whether art or otherwise. I write through the lens of dance, but I hope it’s clear that these things relate to other areas, and I especially hope to hear from those who can take my words and use them to see their own lives and struggles differently. And then tell me what they learned, especially what I’m missing and where I’m wrong. Because, it’s true. I don’t know. So I write. Which I also kind of don’t know how to do, but I’m trying not to tremble over every post. Otherwise no progress. Onwards!

      Thanks for the comment, Don. There’s some inspiration in those quotes… I might have to use some of them in the future!

      Like

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