essays by Shé

Posts Tagged ‘dance’


In Love on November 25, 2022 at 5:12 pm

My dentist looks like a Bollywood star. Again.

The first time this happened, I was living in Hermosa Beach, and Dr. Bhalla was her name. Not only beautiful, she was kind, sensitive, and listened well.

Dr. Ameer, on Kaua’i, is the same, though a different gender. They both have gentle senses of humor.

When I was a kid, my dentist imitated Donald Duck to make me laugh. He also handed out lollipops afterward. Job security?

Today I only need an old filling replaced, which takes less than thirty minutes. The drive to the appointment takes longer, and, on the way, a young girl dances near a waterfall.

There was a time that I watched Bollywood movies almost exclusively. I like that the men are emotional too, and everyone — young to old and back again — dances.

That is what I wish for all of us — a filling dance.

Shé circa 2011
Shé as a Love Fairy, circa 2011


In Love on October 13, 2022 at 11:21 am

On the north shore, there’s a particular reef full of many species of fish, large and small. Sometimes I also see turtles. To access it, I rappel down the cliff, holding onto ropes with both hands and stepping backward. The beach is at the bottom.

I also travel backward in time, looking hard at the past. I was anxious a lot, worried about family, school, work, friends, money. I rarely enjoyed my life.

Luckily, I keep coming back to dance. Today my partners are fish: black and white mini-Hindenburgs, orange and indigo needle-noses, flat round burgundies, striped cream and chocolates, Mondrian color blocks, mottled reds, and shy dappled night skies. Shafts of sunlight stream down on us all.

My mother read aloud to us when we were young: Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, Dylan Thomas, C.S. Lewis. I recently found The Chronicles of Narnia in a Little Free Library in Kapa’a. The sexism surprised me. Perhaps she left those parts out.

Yesterday I paddled into a male-only line-up at Secrets. My ingrained sexism kept me shy until one of them tried to snake the wave in front of me. “Oy!” I said, stroking quickly over the top in front of him. He did me a favor, though, because I started charging it. Caught a ride and stood up. Present, baby!

I am learning to see, to really see: the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. We are all these, and more.

Bullfighter by Shé, 6″ x 9″, acrylic on canvas paper, 2022; after Susan Orlean’s “The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup.”

Essay #11: support

In Love on May 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm

“You are not a waste,” said the director’s assistant, while leading me to the restroom to compose myself. I had just mangled “Singing in the Rain” during an audition, finally putting us out of our collective misery by stopping the accompanist, and apologizing for wasting their time.

Why I was auditioning for musical theatre, I do not know. I don’t even like most of it, and I certainly don’t care for the typical sound actors make while singing show tunes. Too, well, showy. Not authentic.

Well, my voice was certainly authentic yesterday. I opened with “Amazing Grace” and found myself wailing and weeping the words, “I once was lost, but now I’m found.” Talk about saving “a wretch like me”! The good news is that the worst that could happen has happened. It’s done. I sang off-key. Sue me.

Earlier that day, I participated in contact improv exercises with a local dance collective. Standing back to back, Roel slowly leaned forward as I leaned backward, until I could no longer touch the ground. My weight was completely supported on his back, my arms overhead. Even though I’d seen him do this safely and gently with other dancers – it’s quite beautiful – I was afraid I’d fall.

“Put me down,” I said, and started crying. The visceral, kinesthetic sense of physical support was overwhelming. It had been years since I let anyone hold me for any length of time.

I prefer to live alone. I need copious amounts of solitude for mental (and physical) health. But suddenly I find myself weighing the cost/benefit ratio of having a partner. I am tired — bone tired — of doing everything by myself: wrestling with fears, solving problems, working toward goals, having fun.

Look at all the couples (yes, spring has sprung). But does it have to be all or nothing? Could I have a part-time partner? A part-time family? I’d have my down days, my writing days, and then maybe once or twice a week – bingo! – I’d have family and friends. (And then they’d go back in the closet, right?)

Maybe I just have to be truthful with the friends and family I do have. Dude, I need space. I’ll talk to you in two days. Hasta la vista.

Maybe I just (!) have to set (and maintain! Christ, what part of no don’t you understand?) boundaries. (Not disparaging the past, oh no. Just making a comment.)

Meanwhile, I may feel alone, but on a planet with trillions of creatures, that’s not actually the case. Why, I can hear someone hammering right now. And sawing. And throttling a Harley Davidson. Ray the Cat just poked his head in the door.

Maybe I’ll go outside and sing. In the rain.

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