Tuesday morning I stepped out onto 3rd Avenue after hearing the doorman’s ominous “hope you have your umbrella” warning and realized, as my black flats filled with water, that summer had gone through an overnight transformation into autumn.
I’ll admit, it was a slight overreaction due mainly to the rain, but even during these past few sunny days there has been a slight chill whenever the wind blows. Not only that, but an amazing amount of Tumblr posts have been about wearing sweaters and drinking tea, and I did have my first Pumpkin Spice Latte the other day. Soon I will have to buy a new pair of black tights.
So fall is approaching and schoolwise, I’m pretty much back into the swing of things–homework, sleeping during lectures, etc.–and on top of that, I’ve started working. I had my first full week of working as a social media assistant for NYU School of Professional Studies (check out their Twitter and Facebook account to see posts that I help write) and so far I really love it. There’s something about ending my day by writing tweets that I find incredibly fun and relaxing–and no, I am not being factitious, I really do enjoy it, which is very uplifting since being a social media specialist is something that I have considered aspiring towards as a career.
Besides drafting tweets at work, another favorite part of my school week is the two credit modern dance class I’m taking. I get to exercise and move around in a relaxing environment and because I’ve taken years of ballet classes, a lot of the movements are familiar so I feel really comfortable going from position to position, moving across the floor, leaping and turning.
That is, until my teacher says these three words: “Let’s do improv!”
Improv dance and I have a love/hate relationship. I love it; the idea of just dancing the way you feel, like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, makes me so happy. But improv does not like me. Maybe it’s the way my legs are in proportion to my body, or the stiffness in my neck and arms, or the fact that I grew up in a society where expressing yourself with movement is often discouraged, but I have the hardest time making my body move to match what I picture in my mind.
So when my dance teacher Carla–who is like the sweetest person ever by the way–says that it’s time to do improv, I have both a reaction of extreme fear and a rush of excitement. In the previous class we had watched this amazing performance of the Ostrich Dance choreographed by Asadata Dafora, so it wasn’t surprising to me that Wednesday’s first improv theme was birds. It was an easy one (much better than last week where one of the themes was shoes because how on earth am I supposed to dance like a pair of boots?) which I was grateful for, and as I stood waiting for my turn to go across the floor, I played with ideas of different kinds of birds I could pretend to be. First I considered dancing like a pigeon because they are hilarious, but I noticed a lot of other people doing that and wanted to be different. Then I considered being one of those super tiny birds that flit about from branch to branch, but decided I didn’t want to put that much effort into jumping around.
Finally, I decided to be a soaring bird, like the eagles that fly around on Whidbey Island, or the hawks I see gliding when riding my motorcycle in Plain. I stretched my arms wide a swooped and dived and turned during my stretch across the floor and even though in real life I probably looked like I was doing that portion of the chicken dance where you pretend to fly, in my mind I felt the freedom of a soaring bird, flying high above mountains or over the ocean. I breathed with my soaring, the air rushing out of my mouth as I turned up and down making a “whoosh” sound that felt like a release of stress built up from piling homework and responsibilities. In those few seconds that it took me to dance from one side of the room to the other, I was an eagle. And it felt fantastic.
(The next improv character we had to be was a cat–any type of cat–so I decided to be like the lion statues outside of the New York Public Library: tall, regal, and proud. I found it easy, as this is actually how I act on a day to day basis. )
As fall approaches and the freedom of summer slowly dissolves into piles of homework, sometimes I have to remember to be an Eagle Girl, and let the stress out with a whoosh of breath. Thankfully I have improv to help me loosen up a little bit.
PS: Go out and have a pumpkin spice latte this weekend, they really are as good as everyone says.