ART AND DANCING
By Roberto Leal
It was a bustling Wednesday night. The sun had set, leaving behind a trail of dark skies, paving the way for assignments and projects. I had a load of reading to get done, so I decided to make a stop at Starbucks. I got a Doppio Espresso, and decided to take a seat near the window facing Baytree road. The sight of the last rays of sunlight above the education building reminded me that time was of essence. Looking through the glass walls of Starbucks I noticed someone drawing on the whiteboard, but it wasn’t much at the time so I ignored it. Yet looking up a few minutes later I noticed the artwork spread across the board. I couldn’t quite make it out, so I put on my good old glasses to get a better look. To my surprise the artwork reminded me of the Mayan carvings from Belize. I went towards the whiteboard to get a better view, and while the artwork was not Mayan it was a well-drawn piece.
I asked the artist what was the occasion for, but there was none. It is something the artist does during her free time, and so began our conversation. Strangely some of the topics we discussed reminded me of my home country. Hannah Kortrey is a dance major here at Valdosta State University, and comes from Macon Georgia. I never expected her to be a dance major, for her artwork labeled her as an art major.
Her doodling skills started during the tenth grade, when she was drawing bubble letters for a friend. Each bubble letter was filled with a different pattern, similar to her current artwork. In a way drawing allowed her to connect to people, for her work invited people to requested similar drawings. Even today her work is noticed by students here at VSU, and it allows her to connect to people as it did in High School. It became part of her throughout the years, to where it could be described as a form of “pouring out her heart” in a visual form.
Hannah’s artwork reminded me of the Mayan sites back in my home country Belize. Though they are different, the form reminded me of them. Mayan artwork has always amazed me, as have their history. In my hometown Corozal, I wasn’t too far away from a Maya site. The Santa Rita Mayan site was only about fifteen minutes away from my house, that I could always ride my bike to its location. The Mayas left a story within their artwork, and it was recognized throughout the world. It allowed the Mayas to connect with those who found their history interesting. I can still remember as a child how I would run up the ruin and pretend I was one of them—though at the time the ruin was not fully excavated. Mayan culture has always motived me to seek them out, and to remember where home is, even as I study here in the US. In a similar way Hannah’s art is leaving a history, not for the world maybe, but for her and those who get a chance to see it, and in the process allows them to connect with her.
In addition to drawing Hannah can also dance. Her journey started in ballet class when she was five years old. She enjoyed it and eventually fell in love with it, but it wore her out during the fifth grade, leaving dancing in her shadow for a while. It slowly regained a place in her heart, for like art it allowed her to connect to people. At a young age she was extremely shy, quiet, and didn’t say much. Dancing was the only thing people knew her for—they didn’t know her voice yet, nor did she. And like most of us, we all wish to be heard. We all express our voice in different forms, whether it be dancing, drawing, or other creative ways. Dancing influenced her a great deal, and allowed her to regain motivation. It led her to participate in various competitions, and finally allowed her to realize that dancing was what she wanted to do.
I’ve always compared dancing to the ocean, for the form and mood is almost similar. I was fortunate to grow up in a town, Corozal, which had a seafront—and it always gives me a reason to return home. I remember the cool nights by the ocean as I sat under a tree staring into the wide expanse of the sea. Its waves flowing towards me, and the wind playing its music as the moon looked down providing the light for the show. Strange don’t you think that it reminds you of dancing, a show probably, with the crowd staring, the orchestra playing, and the lights revealing to us the dancer.
The ocean front also brings people together, allowing them to connect, in a similar fashion dancing allowed Hannah to connect to people. It goes to show you how beautiful some things are in the world, and how closely they resemble things we do in life. We could say art and dancing are one in the same, and together they form an ocean of history, close to the likes of the Mayans, the sea, and Hannah. At least that is how I see it.
Special Thank you to Roberto Leal for writing this amazing piece, Art and Dancing. This talented young man is an international student from Belize Central America pursuing two Bachelor’s Degrees in English and Mass Media. Today, Belize celebrates the 10th of September because In 1796 England and Spain went to formal war, and the Spanish made a determined effort to free the area from the unwelcome English. A Spanish naval force was sent from Campechy, Yucatan in the summer of 1798 against the settlement at the Belize River, but the English learned of their intent and repulsed them from fortifications on St. Georges Caye. On September 21st, Belize will be celebrating its Independence! A special thank you to Hannah for sharing her talent and story to be featured in this wonderful piece.