Summer is alive and well with the elemental effects of fire and water upon us. It is a time to nurture and repair, create and process, sing and dance!
I am currently living at the Putney School, which is located on a spectacular hilltop in southern Vermont. Studios, performance spaces, classrooms, and dormitories are centrally located on the 500-acre campus, surrounded by a working dairy farm. My specific role here is to teach Modern dance and Mind Body Dancer Yoga to teenage students and the greater community of the Putney School Summer Programs.
Returning for my 4th summer of teaching at Putney (it’s hard to believe that I have been coming this many summers), I am always reminded of the significance of time and space. Here I have the time to catch up and continue with summer friends. Here I am able to find the time to daydream and reflect on the inevitable rises and falls that occur within a year. Most importantly, here I have the time (and I am encouraged) to create. The vast space of my surroundings truly energizes my entire being. Excitement fills the air with laughter and play. This is the summer in Vermont that I have come to know.
I think those of us who live amidst the hustle and bustle of New York can agree that we are confronted with constant, unnecessary distractions that pose unforeseeable challenges. How do we offset those distractions and create boundaries that enable us to remain open to possibility? We share such a concentrated space with so many different types of events and people. How do we feed our creative minds in such incessant environmental chaos? And at what point do we lose ourselves in the process of keeping up with the frantic pace?
Each summer I find myself searching for evolving answers to these questions...specifically through my creative process of making dance. What I have come to comprehend is that new and different challenges are often disguised in the form of fear. Fear has the tendency to consume and spread like a wildfire, if we let it. However, if we nurture the connection between mind, body and spirit, fear can be transformed into something of a greater good. It has the potential to embody the notion of possibility.
Outside the dance studio I have posted a quote by Robert Heller that reads, "Fear is excitement without breath." I love that I get to read that multiple times throughout my day. Quite a simple truth this is, for turning our fear into fuel by coming back to the breath is a familiar practice -- one that is instinctive and, when applied, generates a strong platform for creativity and flow. In the breath there exists the opportunity to pause and reset.
The breath has the power to unravel the effects of fear and redirect them with a sense of direction and purpose. In essence, the breath facilitates necessary transitions. It is within these transitions that I begin to stand tall like the green mountains that surround me. I am able to provide support and receive comfort from the fluffy white clouds that rest effortlessly in the vast, open, blue skies. My creativity flows like the waterfalls that empty in abundance into the nearby Connecticut River. I am discovering that I, in fact, do have the ability to shine bright like the stars that saturate the night’s sky, and it is here that I get to DANCE.
With all this energetic excitement around me, I have set a goal for myself: I will aim to seek clarity and expression through my teaching, my dancing, and my self-yoga practice. I encourage you all to dive into a summer scenery that lends you the time and space to create. May it grant you an appreciation of your surroundings and allow you to continue to experience the art of living.
- Cara Surico
photo credit: Cara Surico