The Shapeshifters

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I haven’t slept since November and I am just landing from one of the most intense weeks of my life.

Where did it start?

There’s been Christmas. Brighton, seaside, friends’ house, gifts.

In Brighton, I caught up with Í, and this is where unbearable intensity begins. I have always loved him to pieces. We met 9 years ago at university. We were equally dissatisfied with the course and we rapidly clicked because we were both incarnated and hurt. And gay.

Back then, he once told me: “Your sexual energy terrifies me.” And he languorously kissed me in the middle of the pub.

We lost contact for 7 years when I dropped out of uni. He randomly reappared in my life on my birthday this year, at a 5 Rhythms dance workshop. I got in the studio, and there he was, beautiful and loveable as always.

We saw each other last week, right after Christmas, to go partying in the trashy gay bars of Brighton. Night of wildness. When we are together, the rest of the world doesn’t exist and I understand that people may find us outrageous. We encourage each other in our natural Eros: hyper dancy, hyper sexual, and hyper inappropriate. It is so liberating. We say obscene things, laugh our heads off and dance till exhaustion.

We went from one club to the other till 4 or 5am, pole danced with the bears, laughed at a woman who fell down, chatted everyone up, burned every single dance floor doing the 5 Rhythms. I even taught him some Martha Graham moves near a karaoke stage where an old Asian guy in duffle-coat was exclusively singing Christmas songs. We were doing diagonals of triplets across the space, not paying any attention to the weird looks we were triggering. That pretty much sums up our relationship.

We came back to London together the day after to do a 5 Rhythms dance workshop entitled “God, Sex & The Body“. He crashed my bed for a few nights.

The workshop was about the male and female archetypes: Father/Son/Holy Spirit and Madonna/Mother/Mistress. We explored the change of personae, we shifted from one rhythm to the other and from one archetype to the other. We embraced the shapeshifter in us. Everyone impersonates the male and female archetypes, it has nothing to do with our gender. A girl can live her life like a wild son. A man can have the intuition of a Madonna. Everyone is a shapeshifter and navigates between the archetypes. It is fascinating.

On Day 1, as a first exercice, the Master of Ceremony, Jonathan Horan, asked the 100+ people in the room to stand still. He then said: “If you are married, walk.”  Very few people – less than 10 – walked. “If you are single, walk.” Most people in the room started walking. “If you are in a relationship, walk.” Some people walked. “What situation is left?” asked Jonathan. A tall beautiful and very pale girl raised her hand and said: “Polyamourous.” And she walked alone amongst 100 people looking at her.

On Day 2, we worked on the Mistress archetype – needless to say it is my favorite. The 100 dancers gathered in a huge circle and Jonathan pumped up some Christina Aguilera and said: “Give me your stripper dance!” That was SO liberating. The group was a solid sample of the human kind – male female old young skinny obese white black gay straight – and we were all going as far as we wanted in our stripper talents with no apprehension of being judged or labeled or getting dirty looks or an unwanted hand on our bottom. 5 Rhythms is the place of extreme permission within safety.

On Day 3, a few women started getting rid of their bra in the dance. I was looking at them, dying to do the same but constrained by my big-boobed-girl self-consciousness. I mean, I have been naked in front of people in various contexts and I am not exactly modest – I just had never danced topless up to that point. When I saw that older ladies were doing it, I was like, yeah, if they do it, I’ll do it. It made me extremely happy to dare, especially knowing that my therapist was in the room (I know… it is weird. That’s the first therapist to ever see that much of me.)

So, that was my days this week. But there were the nights, too.

After the dance, Í and I were pursuing the shapeshifter exploration in the dark. In my bedroom, in my bathtub. 24 hour research.

We stand in a similar turn of our life, some kind of rejection/fascination for the opposite sex. I’ve had this growing curiosity for male energy in the last 6 months. There has been my desire for a man I’ve met which is gradually getting out of control. There has been a variety of men around me. I love men. I am a lesbian and I love men. No need to justify anything. This is just how things are.

Í has been forever gay and knows nothing about girls. He doesn’t even have a mum, cause she left when he was a kid. He’s terrified by female power.

So we worked on taming each other’s energy, body, and fears on the course of 5 nights. We didn’t even have sex. We explored. It was slow, sweet, pure, beautiful, almost innocent, like teenagers confronted to their first experience. When he was touching me, I was feeling like a whole new continent. I was 12 and he was 13, or the other way around. That was so insanely beautiful that it doesn’t translate in description. I want to be a sex beginner all my life.

My flatmates were laughing at us, because they didn’t understand my sudden male intimacy. They were calling my bedroom the “Straight School”.

We went to the New Year Eve drag ball included in the workshop. Everyone was dressed in one of the 6 archetypes. I came as a boy (but ended up as a whore) and Í was an extravagant Sacred Mistress. It was even more confusing when we were making out. The male/female boundaries were getting real captivating and playful. This lady at the ball was entirely painted in blue with a wig like Marie-Antoinette. I asked her: “Wow, are you the Smurfette?” -“No! I’m the Holy Spirit!” 

Ouch.

On the last day of the workshop, I danced in my knickers with another awesome girl in the middle of a circle. No one wanted to ever leave. I suddenly felt some arms embracing me from behind as Jonathan was doing the closing speech. It was this very pretty Middle East girl that I had been looking at since day 1. We started talking after the closing ceremony. Apparently, she had been looking at me too. I wish I remembered her exact words – the meaning was “I was looking at you and finding you beautiful on the dance floor.” She gave me her card. I want to dance with her again, I think I want to know her. I haven’t said that in a long while.

Sexual charges make the Holiday season so much more interesting.

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Ultimate Stage : A Day in Toronto

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Between New York and London, I had an anecdotic 20 hour wait at Toronto airport to connect flights. How thoughtful of Air Canada! I have friends in Toronto that I never see within their natural habitat. I was therefore all excited to arrange an impromptu rendez-vous with them.

After the usual airport and transit bullshit, I found myself hanging out somewhere in Toronto with a miserable 3 hours of sleep in the system. I don’t know this city very well, because I have mostly transited through it. I shamefully ended up at Starbucks just because of the wi-fi (OK, and maple coffee specials). My US phone doesn’t like Canada and I was a pain to reach.

While I was getting hold of ∆ε and με, I slept at the Starbucks counter like a homeless (again). I was checking every now and then if the baristas were giving the impression they were about to ask me to leave the premises, but they let me power nap in peace. Bless them. There was a guy seating next to me, teaching a drawing class to a girl. More exactly, a caricature drawing class. He was randomly showing her customers of the café and chop-chop-chop she was drawing them in a few lines. I was hoping she would caricature me in my sleep but it didn’t happen (I love getting that kind of attention). I guess I was seating too close. 

At 4pm, ∆ε and με picked me up. They were unexpectedly with πρ, whom I met in Paris with the guys a few years ago. ∆ε is turning 75 in September, and he is a living legend and a key figure of modern dance in Canada. He and πρ used to dance in the Martha Graham Company in New York City so they have the hell of anecdotes about the Great Priestess of modern dance. When they tell about their life, it is a mix between a university lecture of history of dance and gossip magazines, because they have some unofficial stories about a few legends of the 20th Century. 

ε and πρ founded together with a third person the Toronto Dance Theatre in 1968, implementing the technique and influence of Martha Graham in Canada.  I met ∆ε in 2003 when I was a dance student in Québec City. He was teaching for 2 weeks and he connected me to my dance heavenly vault. I can’t think of a better image. I remember that the walls of the studio seemed to be pushed back, the ceiling felt higher and this whole worship and spiritual dimension kicked in. ∆ε can teach a whole class without barely speaking. Graham technique is like a secret language and its disciples belong to a secret society. But when he speaks, YOU LISTEN, because every single information is a goldmine, and possibly a big clue to your journey towards dance truth. 

I attended 2 summer schools with his dance company in Guelph, a little town near the big one. We’ve been friends ever since. He is a devoted francophile who often teaches me one or two things about my own country. We catch up on either side of the ocean, mine or theirs. Both sides are actually ours as we don’t necessarily feel home where we were born, and our meetings are always short, wonderful and unexpected. I had last seen them in east London less than a year ago, in ∆ε’s first love’s house which is a veritable 4-floor art gallery opposite to the house of Gilbert & George.

ε is in a cult couple with με, one of his dancers, 30 years younger than him. I love them together. They are one of these creative collaborating couples that I aim to be in some day. They don’t have time for bullshitting each other like most couples do because they’ve always channeled their energy in a creative way. 

This time, ε and πρ started talking about a performance they did at the Espace Pierre Cardin in Paris years ago. They mentioned that they were in Paris in May 68 so they witnessed the historical mess, but I am not sure if the Pierre Cardin story was that year or later on. πρ said that Pierre Cardin was a “total jerk” (sic) who loved himself way too much and was unable to pour his own drinks without a handful of domestics serving him. One day after rehearsal, Pierre Cardin gave them a tour of his office. He was like: “What do you think? I designed everything myself.” πρ was laughing to tears when he explained that his desk was designed in a handbag shape and that Pierre Cardin was obviously proud of it. Pierre Cardin later told them that he really liked their dance show because “he was ahead of himself” and was therefore entitled to understand the subtility of dance avant-garde. Then, ∆ε and πρ told a trip they did through Italy, where they stayed at a lovely hotel, thinking people were very weird until they found out it wasn’t a hotel but a sanatorium. 

Every time I catch up with my living legends, I get a handful of excellent stories which make me see art history, or life in general, under a different light and we have so much laughter. I am not missing a word when I spend time with them, it always makes me see things in a more laid-back, inspiring and reassuring light.

In the meantime, my amazing friend Ν had joined us. She is a beautiful mixed-race dancer with more hair than me, which is quite an achievement. She dances with the Toronto Dance Theatre. She actually is a natural version of a drag-queen (way more than I can ever claim to be), cause she’s tall, muscular and has exaggerated hair and outfits. I met her at the summer dance intensive with ∆ε’s company in 2009. We shared the same house and we remained friends ever since. She is positive, loud and retro. I’ve never seen her down. I love her. 

I stayed over at her French-decorated flat for the night. Her cute flatmate was there, an adorable 23 year old gay dancer from Québec City (we studied at the same school). He picked some spoons out of the freezer and put them on his eyes to decongest them. Interesting image. I love to steal gay boys their beauty tricks. He was on his way out to a famous drag queen contest. Oh no! It sounded like a call from destiny. I would have totally gone with him and been crazy till dawn if it wasn’t for a silly plane taking me back to an overseas life I don’t want a few hours later. And actually, for the first time in weeks, I was excited to go to bed. Sigh. I observed him for a moment. He was exactly what I want to be in my next life. I want to be a young beautiful gay male dancer with insolent beauty and fuck everyone without constraint. This is totally what I was programmed to be, but then the gender thing went wrong. Dammit. I envy gay boys for the sexual freedom they grant to themselves. I do that too, but as a girl, I find more obstacles on my way. It is still more difficult for girls to have unconventional and free sex lives, because many girls are their worst enemy. I find that a lot of them are scared, judge themselves or think too hard.

It was the first time in ages that I felt disappointed to be me and not something completely opposite, because New York had a soothing effect on me : I was the right thing at the right place at the right time. I stepped out of my City and in less than a day I was caught back by my companion fantasies of who else I want to be.

I stayed in with Ν and we watched ‘Flash Dance’ eating blueberry pie, which was wonderful too. How could I spend so long without watching Flash Dance? I vow to have a refresher every year. 

At 5am, a cab picked me up to my final destination. I was so dead from 7 weeks of intense life embracing that I fell asleep on the plane instantly and didn’t even feel the take off.

Thus finished my Spring 2014 North American Tour.

As soon as I got in London, a Brooklyn sign hit my eye on the underground.