Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cheer Machine

It's impossible for me to write a wrap-up post for this cheer show process without myopically expressing my piece of this experience as though it represent the whole. I worry that this isn't quite the right kind of piece to write for a promotional blog on the day when the show should be most aggressively promoted. But, of course, the only truth I can speak is my own.

When I look back at my blog posts throughout this cheer show process, they all have a theme of body image and navigating my relationship with it by doing this work. It is embarrassing to admit, but I pinned a lot of hopes on this show. I thought by the end of the cheer training, I would have some "ideal" body that would look and perform exactly as my brain wanted it to. I still look very much like I did before. I did not gain some sort of super split or jump or dance powers. But change doesn't happen like that. Change is just a slow series of accumulating new habits. We grow accustomed to the new things we learn; they are old news and no longer titillating and impressive.

And so I  have to keep reminding myself that the dance and cheer routines we perform are impressive. To quote Woody Allen quoting Groucho Marx: I don't want to be a part of any club that would have me as a member. As in ... it's easy for me to write off the physical accomplishments I've made in this process by the virtue that if my body can do these routines, they must never have been that challenging to begin with.

But what we've done these past few months is hard. And these past few months have been valuable. And not because we made a play and we're putting it on a stage and asking people to come see it. I believe the five of us, Kaci, Karen, Halyn, Courtney and myself, have experienced something really unique throughout this training process. We mashed together physicality and creativity and female camaraderie and vulnerability and commitment and hard work into this strange-ass metamorphic process. I've certainly been changed by this experience. One piece of art hasn't magically resolved more than a decade of a fucked up body image, but although I can't erase my history, I can write more compassionate pages in each present volume. I've learned it's a lot easier to love your body when you train it and have fun with it and enjoy the rush of the exhilarating things it can do. ... such as this dandy ol' cheer play that opens tonight.

Maybe that's why we've done this whole she-bang: waking up far too early for the past dozens of Saturdays and stretching at home on our kitchen floors and listening to far too much Ke$ha* -- it's because we were putting on a show, right?

Well, maybe. I already feel fulfilled and satisfied from this process. For me, the product is just icing on the cake. Perhaps I'll feel differently after our two weekends of performances, but I hypothesize that it's not the shows that will stick around in my memory as much as the workouts and the choreography sessions that it took to get there. It feels good to create a sisterhood on the foundation of hard work, and it feels even better to work so hard you eclipse your own limits and foreshortened possibilities.

As for a final word on my Blood, Sweat and Cheers experiece, I believe that my character, Chrissy, says it best: "I didn't pass out! I didn't trip! I smiled the whole time! I am a cheer machine!" 

* for the record, "far too much" is a low threshold to cross when measuring units of Ke$ha.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you got so much out of this process, Kayla. I have always been a little uneasy with hard-core training because my brain, cluttered up with crappy societal messages and expectations of an ideal, often gets in the way of enjoying my body's power and strength. You can fight those feelings with every fiber of your being, but they'll get triggered from time to time, and it sucks that exercise, which makes us feel so good, can be a trigger. However, by posting about it, you're fighting the good fight.

    It is traditional to end a post like this by telling the author how beautiful and strong she is, both of which are of course true, but I would like to throw in smart and funny and brave as well.