I think the best way to evaluate your first day at the Bates Professional Training Program is to see how you feel on the second (and the third and fourth, for that matter). Today I feel calm, excited, and sore. Calm because we all made it through the first day of classes—a simple task that many of us feel is impossible before doing so, but one that we always pull off beautifully each summer. Excited because I’ve gotten a preview of what each class will be like for the next three weeks. And sore because of a few anatomical processes that someone with much greater body knowledge than me can explain another day. Something about a microscopic muscle tears and swollen tissue and lactic acid.
I always try and pay close attention on the first day to what the instructors say as much as what they show and do. It sounds simple, and is something that a good dancer should probably do every class, but on any “first day,” there are little nuggets of wisdom that I try and remember. Let’s go through a few.
In Paul Matteson’s modern class, we began with a simple walking pattern that Paul related to time. Starting with an extremely slow roll, we progressed gradually to full upright walking. Paul encouraged us to think of the time passing as our entire life timeline, with the crawl being perhaps birth and infancy, and remembering notable moments along the way to full standing. However, Paul also mentioned that if our mind wandered or couldn’t latch on to that idea it was OK. I liked that. Sometimes teachers offer images and ideas that are difficult for me to grasp in that moment, and I appreciated the acknowledgement that everyone may not be on the same plain to entertain certain thoughts on command.
After lunch I had the pleasure of being entertained by Michael Foley. His humor, varying voice inflection, and energy are greatly appreciated right after lunch. Michael encouraged us to write about our daily experiences. With only three weeks, he said it could be helpful for synthesizing and remembering important notes and thoughts during the festival. I think it can also help conclude and ground your day with simple, directive instruction to remember for the following classes.
And of course, one piece of memorable conversation happened outside of the classroom. My friend was discussing with Greg Catellier (the BDF lighting designer) about whether to switch a class or not. He simply responded to do whatever would give her the most joy and that there is joy in learning. What a lovely way to appreciate the possibilities of each class. So with that, good luck to all on “Day Two,” and may you find joy with every class!