Below theatre student, Rebekah Dawn shares some reflections and insight about what it’s like to wake up with the Arezzo Sunrise.
One of the most beautiful things about my time at ADA was awakening with the sunrise. The body memory class rose with the sun each day to prepare their bodies, minds, and hearts to work. Even though I was in clown class, they welcomed me to join them on two separate mornings.
I was immediately struck by the group’s commitment to silence, which they practiced for the duration of the two hour warm up. I cannot remember the last time, if ever, I was with a group of people who were so comfortable in the absence of speech. It was surprisingly restorative to share space with people without the pressure of social niceties or the worry of words. The dynamic felt inherently inclusive, and allowed for a depth of connection among the ensemble that can’t be achieved any other way.
After meeting in the Mensa, we filtered into a nearby field. As an orange glow emerged upon the azure backdrop, everyone began to warm up in their own sphere. Some people did active energizers while others sat and journaled. One student sat in stillness with her head down, and when another student came alongside her and placed a hand on her back, she released a wave of cleansing tears.
Seeing her vulnerability made me check in with myself. I became aware of the weight of my body in space. I kicked off my shoes so my bare feet could connect with the dry clay, and imagined streams of energy flowing through my body down into the earth. How lovely it was to acknowledge the force of gravity, and not try to alter it or fight against it. I felt grounded.
Grounded is a term that gets thrown around in actor training and contemporary dance all the time, however it rarely comes with universal instructions. While I have had moments of feeling “grounded,” accessing this sensation consistently is still a mystery to me. But here in the fresh morning air, a lingering scent of hay and jasmine, my feet discovering soft spindly patches of wild grass, I felt my body truly and effortlessly aligned. I was moving freely, and creativity was moving freely in me.
This moment was significant. I have a chronic back injury and dealing with the resulting limitations has been devastating. To be able to express myself physically and emotionally is not only my livelihood, but my deepest earthly love. This being taken away is a loss of equal proportion. The doctors don’t know exactly what’s wrong, or exactly why I’m not recovering. I’ve tried everything.
I’ve been told that the mind body connection is a powerful thing. Chronic pain can be the result of misfired neurological signals in order to guard the body from future trauma. Additionally, training for performers is all about turning the brain off and letting gut instinct take the wheel. I understand this logically, but putting it into practice is oxymoronic. The harder I try to control my brain, the more I’m in my head, and the more detached I am from gut instinct. How does one succeed in “trying” to “let go?”
But this particular morning, under the precedent set by a master teacher, in the company of a sympathetic ensemble, I was caught up in the moment. The flow just happened. I didn’t have to “let go,” I just “was.” And as my body moved efficiently without being bogged down by the workings of my hyperactive brain, I wept. It felt so good to move.
It was only a few minutes before my pain returned. Afterall, regaining movement post-injury is an incremental process at best. But as the bright, bulbous sun rose from behind the mountain, an instinct of hope sparked within. With this sunrise, in the company of friends who were on their own journey of releasing the ties that bind them, I was awakened to the realization that the earth renews itself every day. Each morning, the sun rises to bring the light by which every living thing is sustained. It is unconditional, steadfast, without fail. The sunrise is a promise: Broken things will be renewed.