I never saw a cotton field in bloom until I moved to Memphis. I grew up in Illinois and my rural landscape was made up of the corn & soybeans that my Grandfather, Robert Reeder, grew on his farm in southern Illinois. These landscapes are vastly different but they both resonate deeply within me. I am discovering that landscape is deeply connected to my dance. There is the landscape that I can see, touch, smell, taste, and hear. The tall green summer cornfields of my youth, guarding the land like “dutiful soldiers.” There is also the landscape that lives inside of me; the composition of this unique container of mine. There is yet another landscape that I am coming to know through the practice of Authentic Movement. I close my eyes and wait for the impulse to move that comes from within. This unseeing landscape I have been experiencing through Authentic Movement is ever evolving. It started out circular in shape. It had borders, but they were permeable. Although my eyes were closed, I could still orient myself in the real-world landscape, in my case, Overton Park. The unseeing and the real-world landscape informing me simultaneously. This past Thursday, that all changed. I completely lost touch with the real-world and found myself solely in the unseeing landscape. The space became infinite and the shape not so clearly defined.
I am fairly new to the South, and am trying my best not to be, in the words of W. E. B. Du Bois, “a casual visitor with casual ideas.” What I know for sure is that the landscape of the South speaks to me, as does my internal and this new unseeing landscape I am coming to know.
-Bethany Wells Bak