I’ve just spent the past week in the middle of the desert in northern New Mexico on a dance retreat with Mira Betz. Mira offers many types of intensives, and I’ve enjoyed them all. But her retreats are my favorites. Mornings give me a chance for some awesome fusion drilling and technique work. Afternoons and daily dance sketches give me an opportunity to push myself artistically. I should also say in full disclosure that for me, intensives are not about amazing breakthroughs. They are about  a concentrated dose of incremental work to help me progress my dance.

The focus this year was spaces. In the external realm, we created site-responsive dances. We did both a carefully planned one out in the desert, and more spontaneous dances at the fantastic Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. (One of my videos from the latter is posted below.) But it was the internal spaces that I explored that left the strongest mark on me.

My inner critic kept her damn mouth shut almost the entire week. I find it amazing that Mira was able to provide a space in which that voice was mostly silent. She encourages her students to test themselves, to support each other, and to try new and different things in support of their individual art. She gives them tools to do all of these things. But it is the student’s choice on which to pick up.  I chose to pick up all I could hold.

I found myself trying new things, exploring characters and movement that I might not have otherwise. I portrayed a character that was simply happy and in love, not something that I would typically do as many of my pieces tend to be a little darker. I discovered that I can still do a backward somersault, and performed one where it fit in a different piece that I created. I even fully participated in the site-responsive exercises, something that I started as a little resistant to. Even on day 3 (hump-day, for those unfamiliar with the emotional roller coaster of week-long intensives), when my inner critic was  closest to the surface, I was still able to fully participate and brush past what the critic was saying. As a result, I had one of my best intensives ever. I left with solid ideas to explore for 3 new pieces, and a desire to dive right in when I get back to the real world.

My internal space, my dance and creative home, is happy.