Song of the Week: “Your Hand in Mine” by Explosions in the Sky
Last week, at Towards Precipice and Glacier, I got chills.
This style of dance is not for everybody, and I understand that. Without trying to convince you of anything, I’m hoping that I can give those of you who just aren’t into it a little bit of an insight into why I find it so moving. To help get you in the mood, the song of the week is super boring, super long, and super instrumental (and I happen to really love it). Enjoy!
The performance started off with two rows of dancers, each walking up the stairs to one side of the stage. When they got to the top, they stood for a moment, then let their bodies relax and fold in on themselves, their knees bending and their arms arching over until each touched the ground. They collapsed gradually until they were lying down, and then, slowly, rolled like logs towards the back of the stage. Once they started rolling, another dancer would walk from the back of the stage and step over them until they got to the front, where they would repeat the same slow fold, bend, and lie down. This happened in two rows on each side of the stage, over and over again, like two gently flowing rivers.
Every night you and I walk to our beds and we lie down in them to go to sleep. It happens so fast that you probably rarely think about what actually goes into that movement. Do you sit down first, or do you crawl into bed on your hands and knees? Do you get on top of the covers, and then scooch them out from under you, or do you peel them back before you get in? What touches the mattress first, your wrists or your elbows?
To me, this is part of the beauty of this kind of dance. The intention behind every single movement. While rolling, I noticed one dancer would cross one ankle over the other, and let that tiny gesture twist up their leg, their hip, their shoulder, until gradually their whole body rolled over. Throughout this single, long movement, their arms stayed relatively still and relaxed. Other dancers rolled with their arms and hands instead, or their hips. Many of the dancers, as part of their recumbent fold to the ground, once they were on their knees, would lay their arm down first, and rest their head on it, before letting gravity pull them onto their back. I don’t know how long this part of the dance lasted, but I found myself utterly captivated watching the tiny subtleties that differed between each individual dancer completing the same movement.
Another much different moment that stood out to me was when the dancers ran in circles around the huge walls in the middle of the stage. At first, they were just running. And as I watched, I noticed a smile break out on one of their faces. They were looking at someone ahead of them, who turned their head and smiled back. Some of their mouths opened in silent laughter, and they started to run backwards, forwards, jumping, spinning sideways, their arms swinging and heads thrown back, careless, impulsive. I was brought back to a time when I could just run and run, long after my parents grew tired, pounding my bare feet into the grass, running on an endless source of chaotic energy.
It’s that carefreeness, that skip in their step. Dancing like this can be nostalgic, can make me smile and remember and feel far more free than most people feel sitting in a little theater in a little town for a little show.
I heard someone say they were just confused by the piece and didn’t get it, or just found it weird. And I certainly didn’t find some magical story with a full plot and a cast of characters making some big meaning-of-life commentary in the show, but even that wouldn’t be why I found it so beautiful. It was all these little moments, strung together. The feeling of floating peacefully in some great river, the waves lifting you up and down, rocking you, followed by the thrill of youthful energy that propels you forward, the power of running as fast as you can with nothing to weigh you down or hold you back. Finding in simple movements that people do every day a grace, an intention. Moving for the sake of moving.
Maybe none of this makes any sense to you, and that’s okay. Don’t make yourself believe in something that doesn’t move you. Where do you find intention, grace, stillness, nostalgia, youth? What makes you stop to take a deep breath, and forget about the rest of the world for a while?
The band who wrote our song of the week, Explosions in the Sky, shoots fireworks off at all their live shows. I reclined in a hammock at one of them, swaying in the breeze and watching colors burst hundreds of feet above my head into the night sky.
Does it matter what song you’re listening to when you see something like that?