She Was a Dancer

She was a dancer, she was always a dancer. From the time her memories started she had already been taking dance lessons for two years. Admittedly it was mostly disorganized jumping and spinning around, but she had several costumes from several ensembles. And one more thing, even the parents of other children began to watch her when she came on stage. She had presence, stage presence.

Her father watched her every rehearsal, and remembers almost the exact week when the joyful romp became a joyful performance. She counted out the choreographed steps and used concise, but shortened hand and wrist movements to memorize the routine . She could do this anywhere, waiting for food at restaurants, watching television, anywhere at all. The dance floor was in her mind, and the shorthand was an extension of her body.

When the actual rehearsal came, her body mimicked what her shorthand had already worked out, except for the spinning. The shorthand for spinning was a little twirl of the wrist, but that was not at all like the real thing.

Initially, she spun and just got dizzy after a minute. It took years before being able to “spot” off stage by keeping your head fixed, then quickly spin it around to complete the next turn. We have all seen the technique in professional dancers, but it was amazing to see this in pre-teens. By the time she was a teenager she had the technique down pat. And she  was improving her speed of turning her head after having it fixed on a point.

All the while her body was perfectly vertical, arms and legs in exact pose. It was powerful to see, and powerful to experience. And then something happened.

Her eyesight began to fail her. The snap turning of her head to the fixed point began to give her blurred vision. She said nothing at first, worrying that she might have to stop dancing. She continued on, and unless the performance required a tight spin, she never noticed the blurred vision.

Unfortunately a new choreographer like to introduce several star dancers by writing in long spins, longer than she had ever done before. As it turns out, she could easily outspin everyone in the class, so she got the starring lead. Happy as she was, she began to worry about the blurred vision. Could it have longer lasting blurring for the next series of steps?

For several days of rehearsal she studied what was happening. It seemed to her that it was just blurred vision, not dizziness or nausea, certainly not upset stomach. That was a relief, so she focused on what she could actually see, something that a fast camera lens could capture.

It took several weeks before she was certain it wasn’t blurred vision, it was blurred objects, not her vision of the objects. She was seeing clearly , but what she was seeing was blurry. She tested this theory by slowing her spin slightly, and the result was that the box shaped object that she used for her focal point was sharper and less blurred,

She knew that this might seem like a perspective issue. Logic told her that the perception of the box being in focus could be the effect of going slower. It just seemed unusual that it was so consistent, by going just a little bit faster there was an exact degree of blur that postured . After a time it didn’t seem reasonable that her body was that responsive. Some days it shouldn’t be as blurry if it was her fault.

Her final conclusion is that it didn’t matter what she thought she saw, she wasn’t dizzy and she came out of the spin exactly when she needed. The show was a hit, and everyone agreed that they couldn’t take their eyes off of her .

It’s now years later, she is still dancing, but also taking physics in college. The professor offhandedly states that nothing is created and nothing destroyed, just states are changed. Very typical sophomore concepts to open the inquiring mind. Nothing destroyed, just changed.

She thought about this, and reasoned that it made sense when times were simpler, and change was slower, in a practical sense it meant that all atoms, or even parts of atoms are already existent. Nothing new created since the Big Bang. Everything made since is using the current storehouse. The question is, when do we run out of supplies. We want to make sometime new but there aren’t “parts” available. Where do the parts come from if nothing new is created. The answer is simple, some things must be taken apart so that new things can be made.

This balance would be perfect if we don’t mind losing some things in order to have new things. The trouble is that the timing can be all wrong, millions off  things  are  still needed  in  the  modern world and billions  of  things  want to be  made.  The  young dancer  thought  that  physics  was  starting  off badly. How would we know when there was a parts shortage? It  didn’t make sense to her ordered mind. But  it was a problem that she tried  to  work out the  best  she could without  asking her professor. It was too soon  to ask a silly question. Where was the raw material for new things?

Obviously, the earth was mostly untouched, the bottom of the sea floor, plenty of things die off each year. It was a silly question. But is it an infinite supply? The sand of a desert seems infinite, but there are countable grains.

And who collects the supplies to make them available? Suddenly the dancer studying physics thought she might need a second minor in theology.

Then it came to here in a dream, she could technically see a little less than 180 degrees. She doesn’t know what the state of the molecules are for things she can’t see. What if reality is only that which we can observe? That’s very egocentric but maybe that’s only a perspective thing.

Suddenly a memory flashed from years ago. A box sitting off stage right, getting more blurry the faster she turned. More blurry because the detail is in the molecules, and if the molecules aren’t there, then it’s half formed, blurry. Getting out of bed she felt unsteady on her feet. She had heard about first year college students having delusional thoughts. She worried that the stress of leaving home does funny  things.

She went to the bathroom to splash some water on her face. She looked at her image in the mirror and laughed inwardly. She couldn’t see the room behind her head. Maybe the world doesn’t exist there. Perhaps as she moves to one side, the world is being taken apart in order to build the world that is coming into view on the other side.

She thought she could re-create the dancer’s spotter vision, by not focusing on anything, but intently looking just the same. And with her dancer’s reaction, she could move from side to side to see if anything is out of the ordinary. She tried several times, but nothing seemed strange except the dancer’s slight jerking from side to side. She decided to get the toothpaste behind the mirror while she was finishing her jerking routine.

The movement of the mirror magnified the speed of her body’s jerk movement, and for a nanosecond there was a blurry line around her head. Blurry on the left as the room decomposed, blurry on the right as the room was being built.

Using the scientific method she repeated this a dozen times. Her vision was not blurry, parts of the room that she could see in the mirror were blurry, just like that box years ago. She thought that in the morning she should go see a counselor… and change her major to physics with a minor in dance. There are new things to explore.

(a story)

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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