It Looks so Easy

Margaret Jenkins, Bona Fide Choreographer

I recently met an acquaintance who ever so casually suggested to me that I choreograph something for a local event.  At first, I though I hadn’t heard him correctly.  He repeated his suggestion, obviously quite pleased with the idea.

“But, I’m not a choreographer,” I lamely protested.

“Of course you are,” he insisted, “you could put something together so easily!”

Were we living on the same planet?  How did this misplaced confidence in my non-existent choreographic ability arise?

I’d sooner try my hand at painting on black velvet.

Can a record producer write songs?  Can a gallerist paint? Can a stage manager write plays?  Is it an assumption of ability by association?

I have enormous respect for choreographers.  To be successful they must have genius and ambition.  They live inside of music and can turn it inside out.  They understand the human condition and can express universal truths without saying a word. They confront daily challenges, disappointment and rejection on a much more frequent level than I could ever deal with. I could go on and on. But above everything, they are artists.  With a vision.

As far as my own abilities, I learned my limits at about age 10 when I  choreographed a solo for myself for a talent show.  For music, I naively picked  The Waltz of the Flowers.  It was undoubtedly one of the longest 6 min. 53 sec.  of my life.  And most likely, with the exception of my mom, for the audience as well.

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  • Rachel October 4, 2010  

    Candid and funny as always, Dianne. How fortunate artists are that you understand their gifts. And it’s a gift that you have, too, supporting them, and understanding how to shape the conditions that allow them to to do their best work.

  • Laura October 5, 2010  

    So true…Robin feels the same way. Choreography is a very special talent that has no particular mystical connection “so you dance…why not make a dance!” Dancers are artistic instruments…and some are able to pick up the brush and become a painter.

  • Maria Rendina Frantz October 5, 2010  

    I love this Dianne. I felt the same way when my Jr. High School PE teacher showed up with bare feet, wearing a black leotard and asked us to run, skip and leap as she banged a drum! As a student of classical ballet I was shocked when she said “now make a dance”. I chose “Autumn Leaves” and three friends to be the swaying branches and falling leaves. Making dance is in my blood and I can’t get enough. This one teacher changed the course of my life. I believe there is a mystical connection otherwise why do it?

  • Dianne Vapnek October 5, 2010  

    So true, Laura. Thanks for your input. Love your metaphor.

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