Embodiment as Source

By Rulan Tangen

Rulan Tangen – photographed by Randi Lynn Beach

For half my life I lived to dance — across cities and waters and continents, stages and screens and studios, grassy fields and parking lots, train stations and flea markets, airports and artists’ garrets. It was my way of being in the world…Then, a shifting veil between worlds revealed to me an understanding of the dance as life itself — that the way to understand life in all its mystery is through a knowledge beyond words. This is what movement is for me now: from dance I have learned how to be grounded and to make micro-adjustments to adapt to shifts of the terrain beneath me.

I have learned to move energy in various directions and dimensions, and the internal stirring motion within what is understood as stillness. The pause between the constant rise and fall of breath paralleling the moment of suspension in a wave, then the inevitable push from pause into motion, is life itself.

The rhythmic steps that give to and receive from the ground make a vibration that can synchronize the heartbeats of all who hear or feel that vibration, for sound is actually movement. The constellations have been the navigational map that took humans across lands and waters. Within those stars is the connecting link, for all of life on earth is made from carbon, coming from the heart of dying stars.

Dance has given me a way of knowing life.

This movement I have shared with young people, with elders, with successive generations of emerging artists, with canyons, with water. Dancing for the people, in all their magnificent diversity of being-ness, and dancing for all the relatives who are more than human — the plants, the rocks, the animals and insects and winged creatures — the elements.

This dance has brought reciprocity in this period of great pause during these years of the COVID 19 Pandemic. I respond to this call to write so I can ask myself, where is the dance leading me now? As a woman at mid-life, I am a flawed human, a maker, sometimes called a leader, always aspiring to be an artist, and ever resiliently creative. I have danced for life, and what is the dance revealing to me now about the source?
Today, all systems of connection are crumbling and cracking — all except the absolute laws of nature. The desert and mountains have always been places of visioning. So, I am listening, walking in the arroyo daily, reflecting the patterns in movement with my body. Then I move from observation into imagination and then transcend into empathy, becoming — even for a moment — the all-knowing rock, the twisted branch, the ever-changing sand. She is saying: submerge, sink under the snow and past crust down into clay, embrace where soil and water meet. Nurture your seeds, they carry the potential of all life — the stuff of stars. Deep inside each seed are dreams — unique to you as the spiral under each toe.

Rulan Tangen – photographed by Randi Lynn Beach

Rulan Tangen is a Choreographer and the founding Artistic Director of Dancing Earth.  She is of mixed ancestral heritage, including Kampampangan/Pangasinan and Norwegian. She resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and San Francisco, California.  Dancing Earth will be performing at the Presidio in San Francisco, September 24-25, 2022.  Ticket sales at Presidio Theater link here.  Dancing Earth also has ongoing classes and workshops. More information at https://dancingearth.org  

The article above is an excerpt from Art in the Making: Essays by Artists About What They Do, published by The Fisher Press & The John Stevens Shop, 2022. This collection has been assembled by Christopher W. Benson — painter, author, and the director of The Fisher Press — and co-published with his brother Nicholas, who owns and runs the John Stevens Shop. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email