Monday September 17th, 2012 - I went over to Peridance this morning where Bennyroyce Royon (above, photo by Kokyat) was teaching class. He had a big group of dancers and after an initial set of warm-up exercises on the floor ('like an emerging earthworm..." he said) and his characteristic 'body inventory' where the dancers get in touch with their extremeties, he began developing phrase work.
If I was young enough to still be dancing, I would want to take Benny's class all the time. He has so much spiritual energy and it seems to envelop the studio. His style of movement is probably the most gorgeously fluid of any dancer I've encountered in the flesh, and the flesh is part of that style: the tactile element, the running of the hands over his own skin, is so natural and expressive in his dancing. You're aware of it, but it is so silkenly subtle that you are mesmerized. At one point, demonstrating, Benny seem to move out of himself; the dancers watched breathlessly as he delved deeper and deeper into his soul, moving with hypnotic grace. He came out of it like a man emerging from a deep trance. Everyone applauded.
"Open the heart" was an expression he used often, basically meaning 'lead with the sternum'. But it takes on a double meaning when you see dancing this generous. And it left me wondering: can this kind of poetic movement be taught or is it simply a natural gift? Either way, the dancers strove to make the style work for themselves and often they succeeded, to beautiful effect. There was a lot of sweet energy in the room, and a lot of personal expressiveness.
"We don't use words," Benny said. And it was obvious that he doesn't need to. He moved across the diagonal, carving the air with his hands and arms, on his own personal trajectory. If I've dwelt more on Benny himself than on the students, it's inevitable: you don't see this kind of dancing every day.
Then Benny and I went to lunch; we've known each other for a while in a dancerly context and today we moved beyond that.
And then we began talking about an idea we'd each been thinking about separately and how we might bring it to fruition. We decided to start and see what happens.