A Reprise of Revelations: I feel like I’m tasting food for the first time


Would she, Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, 55 years old, former Ailey superstar and current artificial-hip owner — come out of retirement to dance at a special performance on New Year’s Eve? “Are you kidding me?” she responded. No, he was not kidding, and eventually the answer was yes, she would do it.

But knowing how to do something doesn’t mean being able to do it the same way you did it before. The dancers spoke of thinking one thing in their heads but having something else, perhaps, happen in their limbs. “Does the body do what it did when it was 20?”  “Maybe not.”

She was suffused by doubt. Her hip-replacement surgery had taken place at the end of 2012. “I also don’t have any A.C.L. in both of my knees,”

So she got to work. She enlisted the help of a physical therapist, a massage therapist and an acupuncturist; she tweaked her diet; she stepped up her Pilates; and she started going to class again. She began to see the dance from a new perspective, not just as a showcase for technique but as an expression of “all the things that life has put into you.”

And no, she said, she cannot do it exactly the same way she did when she was young: when she arches her back toward the floor while balancing on one leg and extending the other high into the air in one especially hard movement, for instance, she cannot bend back as far as she once did. “Alvin always said, ‘Ponytail to the floor,’ ” she said. “That’s not going to happen.”

She added: “When you’re younger, you have everything — you have the flexibility, you have no fear. But you don’t savor every step, every movement of every fingertip, every beat of the music. I feel like I’m tasting food for the first time.”

She went on a diet and increased her exercise regimen, and then took a big gulp and showed up for classes with members of the current company. She wore gym clothes and socks. “I am not putting on a leotard,”

“At a young age, you look at it physically: how can I do these steps, how can I bend back further, how my leg can go up higher?” she said. “But the older you get, the more you’re comfortable with yourself. I know where I stand and how I feel.”

Robert Battle, Ailey’s artistic director, said the dancers were of course being held to a high standard, but the spirit was just as important as relative perfection. “Maybe they might feel that they can’t do it exactly the way they did, but maybe that’s not the point,” he said. “The point is to be where they are.”

“Do I admire those bodies?” asked Ms. Wood, speaking of the young dancers in the current company. “Absolutely. But I know who I am.”

Read the entire article in the NY Times: With Willing Spirit, a Reprise for Ailey Dancers


We saw the Revelations performance by the Alvin Ailey Dancers five years ago on Christmas Eve with the entire family. A performance we’ll never forget.  Thank you Susan for sharing.


Comments

  1. A perfect post for the end of this year and the beginning of 2014. Truly inspirational.

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  2. Love this!

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  3. beautiful – ‘ the point is to be where they are.’ ‘the spirit was just as important as the relative perfection’ both so true.

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  4. “It’s another chance to do it in a different way.” How incredible that must be, to dance such an emotionally laden role with the benefit of life experience as a ballast. What a gorgeous woman–I would love to see her perform. I’m sure it will be breathtaking….

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