In any new dance situation — performance venue, studio, or partnership — the first thing I assess is this: how much space can I reasonably take up?
Note the wording. Not “how much space should I take up?” or “how do I avoid bumping into things and people?” Instead, the question is framed expansively: Given the space and my dance partners at the moment, how big can I make my body and movements to create an elegant and graceful shape? How can I generate a sense of grandeur?
Women in my culture are trained to appear smaller than we are. We are taught to excuse ourselves for our size, for our shape. We are taught to excuse ourselves for having bodies.
In ATS®, we create breadth and height with our posture and costumes. We create large shapes with our communities. We create spectacle, and we have to be unafraid to do so, because that spectacle increases everyone’s joy.
It’s okay to take up space. It’s our birthright.
This post was inspired by a recent thread on Shira’s Facebook page, in which an anonymous Oriental-style dancer was complaining about ATS®/ITS dancers seemingly being inconsiderate of others’ space in an open dance floor setting – and in which many commenters implied that it was in the nature of ATS®/ITS. This isn’t a direct response to that thread (you can read my and others’ responses there, if you choose to), but the thread did get me thinking more broadly about how and why we take up space.
If you choose to comment on that thread, I ask that you be considerate of others’ feelings and experiences, and speak compassionately and politely, even if the thread makes you feel defensive. Remember, we’re all in this together.