“You can’t be a blank-minded ingénue. There must be a dance persona that is rich, that has layers of interest. A soloist has to have a ‘voice.’ the way a singer does. And it has to do with — not exactly beauty, but something that consumes the whole space. A good soloist has to know the tricks of the trade too. How loud to sing.”
Beverly Blossom, Solo Dancer, in a NY Times interview
Beverly Blossom was a modern-dance choreographer, teacher, and performer known for dancing dangerously. At one point she performed as both an old gigolo and his aging female partner dancing a zesty tango together. In “Poem for the Theater No. 6,” she pioneered one of the first multimedia dance performances and she was strongly influenced by Bertolt Brecht. She was still performing in her mid-80s.
The qualities of a strong solo dance performer that Beverly cites in her interview strike me as very important for writers as well:
“You can’t be a blank-minded ingénue. There must be a dance persona that is rich, that has layers of interest:” As writers, we are most likely to thrive when we bring everything to the party: Our experience, hopes, dreams, disappointments, everything we’ve lived has to find its way in some way to the page. To create layers of interest in our work, we need layers of interest in our life: A rich persona is the fruit of writing dangerously and writing dangerously is the fruit of a rich persona.
“A soloist has to have a ‘voice,’ the way a singer does. And it has to do with — not exactly beauty, but something that consumes the whole space:” A fresh, surprising, singular “voice” is the emotional heart of every rewarding artistic endeavor. Just as the “voice” of a vibrant solo dancer “consumes the whole space,” of a stage, as writers, we need to resist playing small and approach our work expansively, with vision and verve.
“A good soloist has to know the tricks of the trade too. How loud to sing:” Craft takes time. Knowing the tricks of the trade gives us the power and freedom to play, to experiment, to grow. If we don’t know “how loud to sing,” how can we be sure anyone will hear what we have to say? Write on!