The Truest Thing

I am humbled to have been a guest on Jenna Zaffino’s podcast, Pilates Unfiltered. Jenna is a force in the world and I am lucky to know her. She is inspiring because she does good work but more so because she MAKES THINGS HAPPEN.

Here is the link to Jenna’s website, specifically to the Pilates Unfiltered podcast.

And here is the wave washing over me right now.  For Brené Brown readers, there may be a little vulnerability hang-over mixed up in this. (It might make the most sense if you are familiar with my work in Creative Self-Care and/or listed to the interview.)

The goal of my work is to reach the truest thing.

Jenna and others have described my work as pioneering. Maybe- I am not convinced.

If it is, it is because the value of what I do is placed on– no, offered to– the general person and not the “dancer”. The seed of my work is honoring the person, in their most revealed form, and in individual and collective contexts- through movement. My offer to them is space, time, and a guide for how to articulate to themselves and others, WHO THEY ARE RIGHT NOW told through physical means. Multiple movement vocabularies are used so feel free to read pilates and somatics into the following use of the word “Dance”.

Dance, to me, is supposed to shine a light on the human experience told through the body. Dance, for me, needs to reflect the collective human experience when placed onstage- but in the studio, needs to shine a light on the human being(s) in the room. The movement vocabulary does not, for me, define dance. Dance defines life.

In that sense, life is most useful when lived out loud. For others to take in, and to move in response to (hopefully rising above typical comment threads and small-mindedness). In this way, I think of my work along the lines of Alain de Botton’s School of Life– in that I want movement to be the vehicle by which people understand how to live and how to make living artful.

As a field, I think Dance struggles with credibility unless you reach a tier of Artist (big name, big reputation, big company).  I think the entertainment lens has something to do with that, as well as the distractions of athleticism and the reward of compliance in training and discipline over projection of most authentic self. The same could be said for pilates and the fitness lens.

When I think of professional dancers, this is what I hope to see– those who simply are their best selves and are sharing that identity through live or recorded performance. It is a transformed existance, a willingness to investigate that existance and share it. People who bring all of their intelligences with them wherever they go.

Yet we are often openly defining ‘professional dancer’ (or swap ‘educator’ here) status to those earning a paycheck or who have completed a degree or have passed some measure of compliance and external achievement. Without much personal inquiry beyond the superficial:  “I feel best when I am dancing”, “I want to teach (dance) (pilates)”, ” I want to help people”, etc. We all start there of course, but that is just it- that is the starting point, not the end game. So what then?

I think the question is WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE, not just what do you want to do.

For me right now, my “what then” includes how to develop the credible work while living in a small midwest location and not a major city- where people aren’t necessarily used to having access to people with big ideas nor how to interact with them. To do the work which is at par with the company I would like to keep (Artists sharing deep work in a variety of disciplines) without having the privileges of big name, big reputation, big company. How does one build a body of work which has a philosophy and an ephemeral domain? How do we give evidence to the credibility of the work?

I am going to start with one dynamic breath, one session, one group class, more inquiry, and more conversations.

What do you think?

Author: Heather Vaughan-Southard

HEATHER VAUGHAN-SOUTHARD is a connector. She uses somatic engagement and creativity to inspire change in people, perspectives, and practices within classrooms, therapy rooms, and boardrooms. She is a presenter in the fields of education, social-emotional learning, somatic practice, and the arts.

One thought on “The Truest Thing”

  1. Reblogged this on The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard and commented:
    Hi persons of quality!

    Want to hear something cool? My wife (an amazing human being and very patient) was interviewed on the Pilates Unfiltered podcast. You can find a link to the interview as well as her thoughts on the discussion via her site (this post). I’m really proud to be married to Heather and call her my best friend. I hope you will take a listen.

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