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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Compose Through Metaphor

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul” Martha Graham

Over the past few months I’ve been watching old movies for some workshops I’ve been teaching and considering what enables them to pass the test of time and be relevant in today’s generation, which is so more high tech than twenty years ago.

Shag, one movie, is named after and highlights Carolina Shag dancing in the 1960’s, focuses on a week-end of four young women transitioning from high-school, and tracks personal discovery as they begin to see themselves from a new perspective. As this movie was made in 1989, it was already then an historical movie. Yet reached that audience with enthusiasm.

Some of its timeless appeal definitely included the music, which captured the era, was fun, and wove its own magic. However that isn’t enough, as the next movie’s music I’ll discuss actually became a detriment to new viewers.

What captured Shag’s timelessness was the metaphor of dance behind the actual dance steps and music. And the movie blended the dance concept/metaphor seamlessly throughout the storyline.

For example, the character Pudge loves to dance, is so excited she can’t wait to be at the dance hall, and faces immediate disappointment as no one wants to dance with her.  She sees herself through her nickname as undesirable. The surface dilemma is a minor inconvenience to the deeper desire for Pudge to have someone value her for herself, for someone to wants to ‘dance’ with her, to match her heart. The young man she meets insists he can’t shag so Pudge offers to teach him. He actually is an excellent dancer but he too is looking beyond the surface and doesn’t want to be liked just because he can dance in the contest. The dance metaphor guides them into a real understanding of friendship and relationship and possibilities.

And underlines the transition for all the main characters, as they learn their new steps as individuals hearing their own heartbeats, their real desires and their soul hungers.

Journal Prompt:

Choose a dance theme that matches your character, whether current or historical to her real timeline. Chart out the actual dance moves and the pattern to them.

How can you apply that pattern to an emotional conflict she is trying to comprehend?

Share: What timeless quality does it unveil for her situation?

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