Juan Aparicio '15: Pontus Lidberg and a crisis of definition

by Guest Blogger

Harvard Arts Blog asked dancers to reflect on their experiences preparing for the Dance Program Spring Performance 8 p.m. March 28-30 at Farkas Hall. Guest blogger and dancer Juan Aparicio '15 is a government concentrator in Mather House. He has been working with guest choreographer Pontus Lidberg and OFA Dance Program director Jill Johnson for DPSP13.

"What is dance?" my mind queries as I drown myself in YouTube videos: Guillem, SYTYCD, Gaga (Batsheva and Lady). Is it the lines? Yeah. The intricacy? Yeah. The technique, the story, the human potential? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But something more, I think. For me, the missing link was the structure.

Ballet has its structure. Forms of modern dance, like Horton Technique, have their structure. I was safe within the structure -- reassured and cocooned within the folds of certainty and shape.

And then Pontus Lidberg came along and what a process it became! My mind struggled to count, count, count, count. It struggled to grasp the reality of a structured chaos, of a Precambrian explosion that was beautiful in its patterns that were really random movements. Or was it random movements that were really patterns? I ached, not in my body, but in my fight to rationalize, to mold. I fought to hold on to structure, to shape, to certainty.

"Juan," Lidberg said, "it’s just: You’re so used to shaping yourself. Relax. Let it go and just try to let your body move."

Let it go?! That’s not what they told me in dance class! Posture, length, pointing my toes, and holding my fingers. Structure. That’s what I heard when they spoke. That’s what I understood. Let it go…

And so I tried. I tried to let it go (am trying to let it go) and realized that I had misunderstood all along; structure was not the missing link.

I found beauty in a structure whose only characteristic was a lack of structure. I was thinking and feeling. Counting, counting, counting, yes, but focusing less on the shape of my arm or the degree of my leg and more on the release of my breath, the energy in my eyes, and the urgency as I clasp for the hands that will cushion my plunge into the undefined idea of dance that Pontus Lidberg has opened for me.