Poetry at Sangam



MOVEMENTS by Ravi Shankar

      Dance is an art in space and time. The object of the dancer is to obliterate that.
                   (Merce Cunningham)

   What an endeavor, nine of you
touring in a VW van, bringing new forms
      of elasticity into being on stages where the crowd,
   if they came at all, would not stay long
         enough to realize they were witness to history
in the dancing, conjunctions
      of chance in music, sets, steps the likes of which
            had never before been choreographed—
   Hip jut, asynchronous strut, feline pounce,
         convulsive pirouette, collapses,
      the appearance of notes on a prepared piano
         giving way to silence that was really the sound
of moving feet: women flowing continuously,
   men in spurts, around, together, apart,
            together, in between, over, around,
      with calves stretched, torsos contorted,
         wrists flung out from behind ears like freestyle
   swimmers squeezing every last ounce
            of speed from their long strokes,
               not telling a story,
      but articulating each movement in full
         before falling away, rising into the next instant,
   not knowing beforehand how it might feel
            to respond to the music,
      revealing that in costume, on stage, in motion,
         bodies need embody nobody
               save beauty.