Or at least I try not to.
What I mean is that beauty is so wrapped up in aesthetics, which are so subjective and yet socially inscribed, that I don’t believe anything is purely, ultimately, innately beautiful. I fear that we limit ourselves in our thoughts of what could possibly be beautiful – day to day, we enter into routine and forget to really see, hear, touch, feel…
Therefore, I think we should question why we think something is beautiful to see what it implies about what we don’t think is beautiful. It’s easy to see where I’m going with this – I often wonder why I turn heads (and apparently invite comments on my “beautiful” appearance) when I strap on a pair of heels, as opposed to when I go to the corner store in my sweatpants. I wonder, doesn’t ugliness have its own beauty, and maybe beauty its own ugliness? This is why I attempt to disregard beauty all together.
When I think about this question in relation to my own experience, I often think about people’s labeling of themselves as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ dancers. As a dancer and dance-maker, I run into so many people who, upon hearing what I do, comment on their inability to dance. Do they not believe they are beautiful dancers? To me, the awkward stumblings of these pedestrians are more innovative and inspiring than the calculated precision of a ballerina. The way I see it, what qualifies as beauty – or ability to create a “beautiful” dance – is the motivation behind the person performing a dance, their own joy in movement. I see the uninhibited commitment to movement (whether that movement could be see as beautiful or ugly) as beautiful. And there, I’ve admitted my own surrender to beauty.
Maybe it’s arbitrary to do so, but I don’t want to call it beauty. Beauty implies form, implies an image – just as the word “movement” implies a particular shape. Why can’t we define a particular “beauty” or “movement” by intent or by how it arose. I want beauty, like movement, to be a process, not a hard image which bodies try to recreate.
In lieu of flushing all these snip-its of ideas out, I pose to you this video as a site of investigation: