This series titled, “In Light Together, Apart” shares artwork of the attenders from the Young Adult Friend (YAF) retreat on May 15-16, 2020. The idea behind the retreat was to collaboratively create something that speaks to where young adult friends were at that time. The themes that emerged were: time, place, people, loss, change, searching, and reflection.
This week we see art by Haley Castle Miller, Doylestown Monthly Meeting, and Yelena Forrester, Chester MM, PYM. The excerpt from a personal opinion essay below comes from Julia Brandenberger of Upper Dublin Monthly Meeting who is also leading worship sharing this week: https://www.pym.org/event/yaf-worship-with-julia/
Excerpts from Julia Brandenberger’s personal essay on her relationship with ballet:
“The Love and Difficulty
In Thomas Moore’s Dark Nights of the Soul he says “Love gives you a sense of meaning, but it asks price. It will make you into the person you are called to be, but only if you endure its pains and allow it to empty you as much as it fills you.” This quote speaks to my experience as a dancer and theater artist in a capitalistic society in which scarcity breeds competition and constant comparison of products.
It has been difficult to discern where exactly the problems, the depression, the rage and pain that comes with this practice fit into my overall wellbeing. I’ve quasi tried to quit ballet in the past, but no more than a few months goes by and I just don’t feel like myself. I feel like myself when ballet is in my life, when I’m engaged with my practice.
While I know that the physical practice provides great bodily and spiritual nourishment, the psychological issues abound in amounts that are enough to make me consider if I truly am masochistic.
I fundamentally disagree with the rules of the ballet world. Ballet asks dancers to pigeonhole themselves into a system where we are continually discriminated against due to the shape and size of our bodies. Not to mention our age.
When faced with this, my personal choice was not to compromise myself, my health, my dignity, by conceding and admitting “yeah you know what you’re right my body is inherently not beautiful and needs to be skinny in order to be acceptable.”
However, this has left me on the outskirts. Wandering around as an outlaw looking in from the peripherals at the “success” stories.
I don’t show up to traditional company auditions anymore. But I’m left with another problem. I am alone and without real community. I’m not performing and interacting with the ballet world as I’d like to be. On the outside, still, I am not seen as a legitimate “dancer”.
A Personal Revelation
As I’ve come to see it now I realize that the ballet world might need my voice. It needs to hear how horribly damaging it is to lead people to believe that there are right bodies in the wrong bodies- that if you were born with a passion for dance but not born with one of these right bodies….
I’m not just a closet dancer- I’m made to be seen. I’m made to make work. I’m made to share work and dance for an audience. And though it sounds crazy, something in me tells me to stick with ballet. Like this exact area of difficulty is the very one I’m supposed to be in. If I were to pull out prematurely I’d miss the thing that is coming.
And maybe that thing is my own activism, my own art that speaks out against these abusive dynamics which promote divisiveness and elitism in the soulful and spiritual practice of dance.”
The previous iteration of the series can be found at: https://www.pym.org/yaf-at-home-spring-retreat-2020-in-light-together-apart/