There is magic in the air at Camp Prisoney Land. The happiest prison on earth contains an aura brought on by Art Spring, a charity serving incarcerated women. Professional artists, dancers, actors and poets from Metropolis are brought here to teach us how to be artists.
Everyone takes the introductory course which teaches body consciousness and some of the methods of Feldencrist. We move creatively through space and dance. I learned something as simple as changing my standing posture or the way I walk changes my feelings, makes me more self confident and happy.
Once you have completed the intro course, the other courses are open to you. Offerings include visual arts, drawing and painting, singing and songwriting, theater, and creative writing. After completing two classes, and acting in a staged play for the outside public, you are eligible for master classes in presentation, improv, theater and dance intensives.
Alberto, our flamboyant Cuban instructor is amazing. He once danced with the American Ballet Company and in Germany under the directorship of the famed Pina Bausch. On class days, the women mill around anxiously outside the building housing the dance/acting space. We marshal ourselves into a line to try and look purposeful lest the officers run us off. The staff does not like programs for inmates.
Finally our teacher shows up dressed in all white with a hot pink zebra print scarf hanging to his ankles. His wardrobe never disappoints. One day a lab coat with an acid green feathery boa the next a slip dress inherited from the late Pina. He is the only man I’ve ever seen wearing a dress in prison. There is no rule specifically denying this, I looked it up. I like that he is always pushing the envelope. Alberto is a surreal mix of Kafka and Dali.
Today I am taking an intensive class in improv. Be prepared to sweat for the next hour. The music starts with avant garde club beats. We move and twist opening ourselves to the primordial within. Each dancer comes to a position of stillness one by one. Transformation awaits us. We are told to become animals, birds, insects. I am a platypus with a walker, a lemur leaping onto a chair, an autistic snake. Alberto shouts out a series of commands. There is no pretending or halfheartedness. I must become the thing of the command. I am a soldier, I am a crippled parrot, a half alligator parrot.
Alberto cackles like a mad scientist. He shouts, you are all princesses, supermodel fairy princesses. You are getting long, so long your hands waving and reaching up. You are seaweed stretching up from the ocean floor. you are latte princesses with seaweed spines.
Categories: Catherine LaFleur