The Voice In Motion

I am taking singing lessons and trying to make sense of taking singing lessons. At my age, starting something new is momentous. Why is the aging dancer aspiring to a whole new discipline? And it is a discipline. At my first lesson my teacher reeled me in with excitng possibilities. He imagined me singing Carmen and praised my a-flat. I glowed like an eager child at his praise and at his faith in my ability. Then came the second lesson with books to take home and hours of practice ahead of me. The books contain breathing exercises and lessons requiring an ability to read music. I don’t have this ability. Not yet… The breathing exercises are doable, though seem at odds with the breath work I have done for most of my life in relation to dance. I find myself tensing as I lift my chest first, before purposefully drawing the breath in through my nose. Releasing the breath with sound but without releasing my body feels unnatural. I want to glide with the sound. Follow the sound as I have the breath for so many years. Already I find myself wanting to rebel, yet something tells me to trust my teacher and my own resolve to try something new. Could limiting the body’s gestures allow the voice to dance?

I ask this question even though I had a perfectly lovely time earlier today uniting the sound and the gesture. I moved and allowed the sound to issue forth as it would. I let the breath, the movement, and the sound move into being. The mind was at rest and the breath was never labored. I did not run out of breath or exceed the range my voice was happy with. In fact, my voice was freed to discover surprising reaches. I was on an exploring trip that yielded surprising treasures. I was a bird that never imagined having to learn to sing. it was in my nature to emit my song, and I did not question the notes of my song. At least for a little while.

The photograph above seems to express something of what I experienced. It was taken during a father’s day performance in the Ocean Springs Community Center where my father’s murals bring life to the walls. I have always felt that the walls were interractive in some mysterious way – that when I danced I was one with the murals, acceptable and responded to by my father’s creatures. Especially the birds… I was not singing as I danced, but the red-winged blackbird seems to believe in my song.

But back to the lessons…


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