Composing Pure Action

Zumba is a big part of my life. 2 to 3 times a week I take classes whether at the gym or right now digitally through Zoom. It always amazes how my body is able to follow my dance teacher’s movements. I don’t consciously think about the moves, but somewhere in my brain it processes the information and directs my body to move. I never thought of this as a form of composing until last fall.

For my Fall 2018 grad class, I choreographed my own dance to better understand my students writing process. This took me out of my comfort zone while composing. I wanted to better understand what it feels like to take “writing risks” when you are not 100% confident with the material.

Now, with social distancing, I have been finding that I improvise with my songs more during the cool down. “Despacito” is probably one of my favorite songs, yet we don’t have a choreographed dance to it. The last two weeks I’ve been moving to that song and using the dance steps that I know from other choreographed pieces. Instead of copying the movement “word for word” or rather move for move, I am mixing the steps together to create my own piece. I am putting them together in a unique way much the way writers use various craft techniques.

As I’m finishing my class right now, I’m actually speaking this into my phone because I don;t want to forget my thoughts. I’m realizing that the way I am putting these dance moves together replicates in a different way the composing that we do with language. There is this moment before my body moves to the step that my mind has envisioned it. I must compose that dance move as a vision in my mind and bring it forth from my consciousness.

It’s interesting to think about how we compose not just in writing and thought but also in movement and action of the body. I am going to notice the other ways that I compose in my daily life, and I invite you to do the same thing. I will be interested to see how and if this impacts my writing process.

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