In the darkened theatre, my breath melded into the breathing of hundreds, all waiting for something magnificent, waiting to be moved. It is a collective inhalation of expectation while the curtain rises.

They stand in their many poses, muscles tight in anticipation. Waiting to move…waiting to move the audience.

This was my first Alvin Ailey production. Its intensity magnified by the voices of Sweet Honey and the Rock – live and on stage. It was almost too much to bear. The purity of voice mingling so directly with the movement of bodies.

By the third act – after Otis had his tribute – I found my connection. Less story and more visceral. The angle of bodies. The strength. The beauty. And the history of people, Black people, held hostage to barbarity and survival the only recourse.

I sat in the theatre with a friend, discussing between curtain calls, the definition of art – its meaning. Listening to me try to organize my thoughts and the thoughts of a writer I recently heard, my friend posited that for me it was about inspiration. That like respiration, breathing in and out, inspiration was the taking in of something sublime, releasing it again into the world.

And there is truth in that. I look at a world of creation around me and marvel at the things that people can do…that I cannot. Art is something beyond me. My appreciation stems from knowing how difficult it is to create sound that breaks my heart, or movement that indeed moves me.

As I watched skin glisten under colored lights I could not help but wonder if dancers fall in love with their movements – maybe even more than complete dances – the way I occasionally fall for  a sentence, a collection of words at a certain pacing. A shimmy, an undulating arm?

No matter my place in this world, I continually seek inspiration. I crave the greedy feeling of wanting to be filled. A melody of strings, a smearing of charcoal, a thinning of glass…metered metaphors, joy on my tongue…I search out the sublime and pray an artist’s prayer at the feet of those that create it. Not because they are gods, but because I am able to see God more clearly through their art.


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1 Comment on To Breathe

  1. LaDawn says:

    This was beautiful to read.

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