I love my life right now. I’m sitting here reflecting on the last 24 hours with a big smile on my face.
What an adventure! We’ve been planning this for months. This bonding mother-daughter trip. When so much separates us, one thing that unites us is our love for watching contemporary dance. And one contemporary dancer in particular. Lukas MacFarlane of Got to Dance fame. I can still remember that first audition over four years ago. Goosebumps all over.
There was just something about the way he danced. Such passion. This was what dance was all about for me. Expressing inner emotions outwardly through music. The tracks he used were some of my favourite – ‘Too Close’ by Alex Clare; ‘Impossible’ by James Arthur; ‘Laura Palmer’ by Bastille. Those rhythms. Matching the beat of my heart. Stirring my soul.
And the dance. That one sock quirkiness. Then not just the turns and tricks, but the little details too. The authenticity of movement. So raw. So real. I was well and truly hooked.
My daughter too. Thank God for Youtube. The opportunity to watch these routines time and time and time again. For my daughter who has all sorts of issues, this guy could express outwardly what she couldn’t put into words. For me who has all sorts of issues, this guy could express outwardly what I couldn’t put into words.
I was fully aware I had no connection between my mind, body and emotions at that time. I’d never been taught how. I wanted to learn. I started to run, started to do yoga, started to dance. I started to make that mind-body connection. It’s been an incredible journey.
So when I saw that Lukas MacFarlane was touring the UK with his company UnTitled, I was excited. Surely he’d be coming to Newcastle. But no. Manchester was the nearest. And so the planning started. Show tickets, Hotel. Train tickets. Plans with my sisters in law. It would all be worth it, I had no doubt about that.
When we arrived at a deserted Manchester Town Hall, alarm bells started ringing. Tour Manager Pru Wilson informed us the show had been cancelled. I could have cried. I could have sworn. I could have hit someone. Being with my daughter is a fragile peace at the best of times. Lukas describes Pru as his guardian angel. In that moment, she was our guardian angel too. We were to attend the show at 730 instead. She gave us complimentary tickets for the sisters in law. She promised us photos with Lukas himself. And she listened. Listened to me talking about my dance journey.
We left. We drank a few cocktails. We ate noodles. We came back. We took our seats. And waited.
And oh my word, I loved it! I loved how they used the space. I loved the lighting. I loved the music. But most of all, I loved the movement. The emotion and passion and joy and angst writ large on these bodies. This was Lukas’ inner landscape expressed outwardly by the five company dancers. The characters were so deep. When they danced in unison, it was the same steps totally in sync with each other but translated in completely individual ways – each dancer embodied a personality that placed an imprint on their whole performance – even when they were standing, waiting, observing. The intermingling of raw agonising and overflowing joy took the audience on an emotional journey, reflecting Lukas MacFarlane’s own emotional journey as he wrestled with his confusing sexuality. Exploring the suffocating truth was such an intimate subject in such an intimate setting. You could reach out and touch the dancers, see the sweat on their foreheads, hear every breath and the quietest of sobs. It was heart-rending. I felt invested in the storyline, willing it with every fibre of my being to turn out OK in the end.
The powerful choreography evoked the strongest of reactions. I felt angry, confused, happy, scared, frustrated, protective and loving. How can watching other people dance do this? It was all so beautiful. My daughter kept nudging me as if to say ‘Look at that! Isn’t that incredible? Did you see that?’ It was the best of shared experiences in our world where positive shared experiences are few and far between.
And when we got to meet Lukas afterwards, I was giddy. I admit it. There’s no better word for it. What a lovely, lovely guy. When he said ‘I hear you dance too’, it was so natural, so without judgement, so kind. I don’t know how it feels to a young man like him to know that he has inspired a 50 year old woman to take up dance. Whatever he felt, he gave me the best hug.
So thank you Lukas MacFarlane and UnTitled dance company for your performance of ‘The Suffocating Truth’. Little did you know when you started work on it how timely it would be, I suspect. But your willingness to expose your own life to scrutiny and as dancers make yourselves so emotionally vulnerable is to be applauded.
And I sincerely hope that we all find a way to love who we love without judgement and fear and any sense of shame.
To love and let love.