Obviously, I’ve been watching So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) again this season. While I love it, it makes me miss my grandmother, Muddy, terribly. Before she met my grandfather, Muddy (Beatrice Allen) was a dancer. In fact, she met my grandfather while she was in Germany touring with Ruth St. Dennis. When she decided to settle down and get married at the ripe old age of 19, she gave up dancing professionally and got rid of all of her photos and other mementos from her dancing days. This, obviously, saddens me because I’d love to see that stuff. But what saddens me more, and what makes me miss her more acutely, is watching the dance shows on TV now, particularly SYTYCD. The variety of styles you get from the myriad of choreographers would, I think, overwhelm her, delight her, sharpen her. When you look at what these dancers are capable of now compared to what was asked of them in her early dance years, it reminds me of looking at footage of early gymnasts compared to now. Hell, to be a dancer now, you have to also have a pretty good arsenal of gymnastic tricks, too. If you don’t have a front aerial, you’re going to have a hard time working.
But I just wish that she were around now so that we could watch together and discuss what we were seeing. I would love to share that with her because I know her insight would be incredible. As you’ve seen on this blog from the Mondays With Muddy posts, you know what a thoughtful and thought-full person she was. I know she would have helped me see each dance, dancer, and choreographer from a different angle. I know it’s just a reality show, but there is real art happening there.
Having moved away from doing so many dancer paintings, I think maybe I’m feeling the gap between Muddy and myself more acutely than normal. So perhaps it’s time to figure out how to revisit that work in a new way. I’m thinking maybe I need to combine the realist work with dance imagery. Still trying to flesh out what that will look like, but definitely a direction I want to pursue.
As an aside, be sure to read next week’s Mondays With Muddy post. It’s my favorite from the whole manuscript, and, indirectly, talks about the first time people said she was a good dancer.