28 February 2006

self portrait tuesday #23 (all of me)


(ward is responsible for this great shot, by the way)

well, this is a beauty pageant compared to the way my feet usually look. originally, I wanted to show my feet in all their gritty post-dance class glory, but thanks to ward's animation shenanigans last week and various meetings and deadlines, I will not be back in class until next week. by then, this particular self portrait tuesday challenge will be over and we'll all be onto the next one. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to move on. because aren't you just a little grossed out by my feet here? aren't you gagging just a little bit? I am. I mean, I love feet. I think they're really cool and beautiful but it took everything in me not to retouch and tweak until the cracks and calluses could no longer be seen.

but these are my ugly bits. the cracks seem to re-open every time I take class and the calluses never go away because I walk around barefoot on wood floors everyday. after class, they are covered with dirt and black from the marley floor covering of the space. I've always loved going barefoot and there's a price to pay for that. as a kid, I'd happily scorch my feet walking across hot rocks and concrete in the summer time. in the winter, socks always made my feet feel hot and restricted. and then came modern dance. going barefoot was (is) a direct rebellion against the confines of ballet (one of many ways modern dance has distinguished itself within the art form). and you know that I could go on and on here (because I love me some dance history) but all I really need to say is thank you. thank you, isadora, because I love the way it feels and feet should be free to move and connect with the floor. there's a give and take of weight that you can't feel wearing shoes and there's an undeniably gorgeous quality that comes from the mover. but of course, feet rip and burn. on the last day of ADF, I could barely make it through class, my feet were in such horrible shape. raw and bleeding. all taped up so I could at least finish the last of the session. and I think I might be strangely proud of that, proud of my feet and all that they've endured-- in a very sort of corny, self righteous way. (think debbie allen, a la 'fame' and yes, it's funny but right here, right now is where you start paying. IN SWEAT. I hope you just went there with me. didn't you? please say you did).

in defense of my personal grooming habits, I think I should say that I do make an effort to take care of my feet (when I can). I love pedicures, though will someone please help the woman who has to make my feet pretty? I usually end up apologizing all over myself and sit there in shame while they slough away. then I leave a big tip and enjoy my semi-smooth heels and candy-apple red toes for about all of 24 hours. my brother likes to say that I don't really even need to wear shoes anymore. that the skin on the bottom of my feet has, in fact, become my very own pair of shoes (custom made, cultivated from a lifetime of abuse and neglect). that I wouldn't even feel it if I walked over a big rusty nail or a small fire. funny. YOU'RE A FUNNY FUNNY MAN, NATE. people are always giving me pedicure kits and minty foot lotions and I love it all and I do use it but it doesn't seem to make much of a difference. my feet are what they are.

actually, I'm surprised at how much my feet will tolerate. I'm impressed with their strength and durability and, like the maternity underwear I wrote about last week, I respect the fact that they've seen battle. I should treat them better than I do, I know this. that's why sometime in the next couple of days, you are going to see them all gussied up in a pair of purdy little socks and some purdy shoes. and I'm going to get out the peppermint foot lotion too. because writing this has got me thinking that these old feet deserve better.

(more ugly/lovely bits here and here)

28 comments:

  1. What an amazing picture. And so great you have an activity like dance that you love so much.

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  2. oh, you finally showed us! amazing callouses, good work:)

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  3. That is a VERY cool photo, calluses and all.

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  4. i'm actually not grossed out at all... i swear - not even a little. you shot this so well... i feel life and pain and time and dancing and joy and time spent....

    go feet go!

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  5. I am intrigued. I find myself fascinated with the idea of dance. Thanks for an insider view of what lies behind the beauty and passion of it all.

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  6. Your feet aren't ugly, it's a beautiful photograph actually. Thank you for sharing ~ the story behind your tooties is well worth a few minutes of feeling embarrassed at the nail salon. At least they aren't stinky!! (=

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  7. i'm a foot lover and neglecter myself. i love the dance stories you tell, they make me want to try moving with more purpose.

    beautiful photo, how'd ya do that?

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  8. ha! we ought to put a shot of nate's feet up here if he feels like commenting on the shape of others' feet! i think this is a great shot, and I am personally not much of a foot lover. I dont decorate mine, dont like looking at them, and havent ever had a pedicure. But this is a nice foot shot! (Joy has a nice foot shot up too :) And a great story to go along with it.

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  9. This is so fantastic. I'm with you, bare feet all the way. I actually enjoyed when we were still required to take our shoes off at the airport for security, feeling the cool airport floor under my feet, before lifting off the ground...much like dancing.

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  10. love the picture!!! its amazing how beautiful ugly is sometimes!

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  11. there is a certain kind of beauty in a dancers feet!

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  12. THANK YOU for quoting Debbie Allen. I like to give my students what I called "the Fame talk" until I realized that they were all too young to know what the hell I was talking about. That was a sad day.

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  13. i first saw this photo at flickr - (in a thumbnail view) and thought they were baby feet. they looked like that from afar. so when i opened it up and saw they were yours - it was an amazing illusion really. i'm not grossed out either. i think you should be proud of these feet - well i'm sure you are - i don't mean it that way - but i know how e feels about the calluses on his fingers from playing guitar, he doesn't like getting them soaked - as it softens them and he likes to keep them for playing - so he treats his calluses pretty well (a great excuse not to do dishes - too bad we didn't wash dishes with our feet.) anyway - i'm digressing way too much. these aren't ugly bits - these are trophies! this is a great post - great feet - and oh how i would love to see them dance!

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  14. p.s. - and this photo is amazing!

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  15. the things we love always mark us in a most singular way. it's beautiful.

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  16. oh yeah...i can relate!
    my heels look exactly the same!
    jeez...and i am not even a dancer...

    i also feel full of shame when getting a pedicure...lol.

    i love that you love your strong feet. that is a very nice perception...i will have to try that too...cuz it is so true! our feet support us and carry us through so much.
    pretty amazing...

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  17. my dear cousin-in-law,
    I love this picture and the description of the 'torture' you've put your feet through. And there is nothing wrong with them. If anything, they help to tell the story of who you are.

    I took a gander at my calender and I will definitely call soon.

    -laura

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  18. What adorable, calloused tootsies! Honestly, I really don't mind rubbing these movable landscapes each and every night. Quite comforting, actually.

    And thanks for the nice comments on the photo-taking, guys. I took this shot, but Andrea tweaked it beautifully to make it black & white. Great job, sweetie.

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  19. Ohhhhhh...yeah...baby...I'd suck on that...(JUST KIDDING!) hahahahahahahahaha

    (Okay that was so inappropriate...but I couldn't resist!)

    You have beautiful feet; they show what you love. I can relate to you...because my hands are a mess: dirty fingernails, gnawed cuticles, calluses. It's from all the abuse that goes along with drawing and working with them all day. They're a wreck, but I don't care. I'm more concerned with what comes from them. Glad to hear you do the same.

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  20. firstly, let me please give credit to my sweet husband for taking this photograph... he has to put up with my feet daily (ha, and no one better to capture them). I tried but just couldn't get the angle I wanted. so, thank you ward. and thank you (always) for the incredible foot rubs. it's why I married you.

    secondly, thank you everyone for all the kind words... I'm going to tell my feet what you said. and I'm going to tell them to stop being so self conscious about all the cracks and calluses.

    amystery-- I love the visual of you enjoying barefeet at the airport. is it any surprise that I don't mind it either? and isn't it funny to see all the people standing around without their shoes on? especially the big bad important ones who are in such a hurry.

    maven-- I was beginning to think I was crazy. I knew someone had to know (and love) debbie allen and her infamous speech. sad day, indeed. maybe you could try delivering said speech to your students while wearing a taupe skirted leotard and carrying a long skinny stick.

    jan-- love that bit about E.

    kathleen-- glad I'm not the only one who feels shame at the nail place, ha.

    clare haunch! is that laura? good to see you here. thanks for your words and looking forward to your call.

    justin-- you're just a little bit twisted. and I love it.

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  21. i have a question for you... i want to dance. i am terrified of public movemnet, stemming from being shamed by a dance teacher as a child who told me i was doing everything all wrong, would never have a dancer's body, etc. i really want to dance but feel so awkward doing it, i feel really judged. i am 36. how would you suggest starting it? to what/ how/ i want to get over my fears, shame. i have actually failed gym just to avoid being watched dancing. so sad. i am an artist, i imagine it is a similar process...just uncover my inner dancer. what kinds of things do you do in the beginning with your kid s/kid students? maybe i could start there? thank you.

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  22. i love fame. i was right there with you.

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  23. amazing shot! sounds like your feet have taken you to some really great places, really cool experiences! makes me think of that quote about not arriving at our graves in a carefully preserved body, but instead in a body that's been used and worn out and experienced life to the fullest.

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  24. meridith-- thank you for going there with me. love you for it. :)

    navy lane-- thank you! and I know that quote you're talking about... a friend sent it to me a while back and those are some GREAT words.

    anonymous-- if it makes you feel any better, I was told by so many different dance teachers that I was not good enough/skinny enough. it was the good teachers that saved me, though. and it is so unfortunate that you never had that kind of teacher or experience. even more unfortunate is that I continue to hear stories like this. and while I believe that dance educators have come a long way, the damage has already been done to so many. so, let's see what we can do about undoing some of this damage.

    I truly believe that dance is for everyone. it's a matter of finding joy in movement and this is different thing for everyone. I wish I knew more about you-- as in, what kind of dance you gravitate towards, where you live, etc. my help would be much more effective. please, feel free to email me (hula70 at comcast dot net) so we can talk. however, if you're not so comfortable with that, here's what I suggest:

    start at home. use the music you love. turn out the lights (or not) and just move however you feel like, for however long you feel like doing. you may feel silly at first but this is meant to be an exercise in release-- much like writing without stopping (free flow) or drawing witout stopping for a set amount of time. the more you do this, the more comfortable you wiil feel. with my kids/students (especially the younger ones), the idea is to tap into the base creativity we all have as movers. it's an energy that's pure and when you find it, you feel like you can dance forever. so I often let them move around the room freely (using all different kinds of music) with a little bit of structure (i.e., changing levels, movement quality, speed). sometimes, we 'free dance' and the only rule is that you must freeze when the music stops. I realize all this sounds simplistic in nature and that no one will be there with you to guide your moving-- but the idea is to get moving. to get out of your head and into your body. to move authentically. meaning, to move in any way you feel, from your truest place-- with no worries about appearance or judgment. so, home (alone, if need be) is a good place to start. if you have young kids, they're great to dance with too.

    now: do you see yourself taking a class in the future at all? the right class would be a phenomenal experience for you. if so, think about what kind of movement you love. some love the freedom and technique of modern, some love the energy and live drumming of african, some adults love the discipline and structure of ballet. and there's tap, belly dancing, ballroom, hip hop, jazz... so much! so, what do you like? and what's available to you where you live? if the fear of moving in public still grips you, start small. this is going to sound corny, but there are lots of great dance tapes/dvds out there (lots of bad ones too, but still). an instructional-like tape/dvd would be a good thing for you because it would give you the feel of taking class without all the public trauma. as to where to get tapes, I'll have to look up some sites for you (don't have that info readily available). also, you could try observing a real class. most teachers are open to this and it would really give you a feel for the teacher and their approach (and most importantly-- how he/she deals with students). if you find one you like and feel comfortable enough, you could talk with the teacher. tell them exactly what you told me, and if they are the real thing, they'll understand and be willing to meet you where you're at. they'll take into consideration your challenges and know how/when/where to push you and when not to. start by only taking the beginning part of class (usually the warm-up) and hang out in back of the class. as you become more comfortable, you can stay longer, participate and interact more.

    also, another something to try: go to a dance performance that interests you (or even watch one on video/dvd-- though I highly recommend the live experience if it is at all possible). write down what you like about it, about a particular piece, or even a certain dancer. it doesn't have to be what you think is GOOD about it, just what you like (sometimes there's a difference). or you may not like anything about it. if that's the case, write that down too. you can draw it, paint it or just make mental notes, whatever. when you get home, see if you are inspired to move. the object is not to copy what you've seen but move freely from inspiration... does this make any sense? the idea is to connect with the authentic mover in you, stir up all those ideas and feelings and get you moving.

    hope I haven't overwhelmed you with information here, anonymous. again, please feel free to email me as I would love to help you in any way that I can. I would love it if you'd keep me posted. and for the record, the dance teacher that did this to you should be smacked and never allowed to teach again.

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  25. i think your feet are beautiful... i would love to take care of them for you.

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  26. I love the picture... it shows the work you put into dance, and that says a lot. My daughter is a dancer, she is 3, but a dancer.... maybe someday her feet will show her work too. :)

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  27. from the bottom of my heart,thank-you for the dance suggestions, you are so thoughtful. i am going to do them. not ready for a class yet. i will do them at home. lots of love to you, andrea. thank you for your kind reply. i bet you are an amazing dance teacher, the kids are lucky to have you! i knew you would have some good ideas! looking forward to your new posts. you are a talented writer, as well!

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  28. I ADORE this photo, I ADORE modern dance! I love the feeling of my feet gripping the floor, pushing off of it and forcing away from it. I am finally going to take class again after a too long hiatus! Oh the floor burns, scars, callous's, beautiful, your feet sing to me...

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