Progress Report

I’m a girl who appreciates her gold stars. Okay, I’m the girl who needs her gold stars.¬†Okay, okay, I’m the girl who demands them.

“I want my gold star!”

So I’m giving myself one.

Last night, my group Ala performed at the Samba Queen Competition. We rehearsed backstage before the show. One girl took the lead and put us on our respective sides, but she was wrong and put each group in the opposite place. This would require agreement with everyone sharing the stage. Do we switch sides in formation to compensate for the reversal in our starting positions? Or will we all navigate brand new pathways – LIVE in performance – to get to our originally rehearsed positions?

Here’s the answer. Make the quick correction to match what we set in rehearsal. No onstage collisions in the forecast.

She wouldn’t budge. It was interesting. We didn’t conflict at all. No energetic frustration, just disagreement and discussion. Suddenly, it didn’t matter to me. She was mistaken, but she was sure. And she had taken charge. I wasn’t rebuffed. I wasn’t ruffled. I was right, and feeling no need, urge, or pressure to “fix” or force anything.

I realized, that’s kinda why I do this stuff. I’m a rigid person who has spent most of my life controlling outcomes, and failing. As she directed us, wrongly, I practiced flexing a new muscle: Flexibility itself.

The group was in a state of confusion. From time to time, I’d restate that we were now on opposite sides. Discussion would follow, and the woman who took the lead, whom I like and enjoy a great deal in class, continued in charge and in the wrong.

Several other women came to me during and after, saying, “You know, I think you’re right? I did start on the other side in class.”

“Yeah, we did.”

We worked it out. One way or another, the performance would begin and end. We’d all get there somehow. I actually rolled with it.

Another woman said proudly of the collaboration, “That was very democratic of us.”

“It was!” I was proud, too.

“You know how it is. Women can sometimes get catty with each other.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “We just don’t have that kind of group.”

I’m a right fighter. I’m often technically correct. I’m very exact. I know my mark, and I know yours. Theatre suits my brain, because it’s reliable. X marks the spot.

I will lose to be right. Last night, I didn’t. It felt good to win in a new way!

Yay, Christie! Good job! Gold star!

I’m so behind in my rudimentary life skills. Better late than never, truly.

I will say, this Samba thing I’m doing is so powerful. I truly believe it calls on the best of us, and all of the women I’m studying and growing friendships with are examples of feminine power applied outside of the patriarchal dichotomy. What that means for me is an acute awareness of how my strong female voice has spent itself SCREAMING my entire life, using masculine energy, because that’s the only model we’ve had.

Until now.

The world is changing. Flux is catastrophic and devastating, but it’s growth and it’s time. My belief is – my prayer is – that we will see the other side of this upheaval with more voices at the table and a new, initially unsteady alliance gaining its footing and making healthier strides for the benefit of the world.

Female power doesn’t wish to supplant male power. We want to cooperate. But we have to fight like hell first to get a seat and a voice. That’s what’s happening now. Better is to come. I believe it.

That’s what Samba teaches me.

Oh, and last night, a girl in the group chickened out of her position front and center. We have simple dresses in red, orange, or yellow, and we’d organized ourselves to avoid color clumping onstage. Like this dancer, I was in a red dress and had to take her place.

My friends were in the audience. They congratulated me after the performance. “You were the leader!”

God damn, I can’t avoid being in charge, even when I try!

samba queen ala performance

photographer Rudy van Bree

nennette and me at samba queen

 

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