I am in Arizona. I am on a ranch (or rather a ranch style complex built around a golf course, in Arizona. Most of the time It feels like a movie set, some of the time I feel like I am inside a video game. Sim City Desert Style. I am odd here. I walk to the fitness centre. Everyone else drives. I am odd here. I am younger than 60 and I seem to bounce while others plod. I am loving it here-seems appropriate to resort to McDonalds slogan - just for the sheer american-ness of it This is America. Oh yeah baby.
It's 18th December 2009. The sun is beating down here. It's gonna be a hot Christmas. I just came out of a series of fitness classes - americana style. The fitness instructor wore a US flag head band. We exercised to 80s music ( or older). We even got out canes and did several Broadway numbers in the dance aerobics class. The step class (at 7am on this fine morning) saw two teachers both with US flag headbands bouncing around on their steps. The assistant- a bulky bubbly man with muscles that could rival Shay Kuebler's- (Ok Shay maybe only in the fact that they are older muscles), steps on a super advanced boomerang type step-apparatus that belongs in video game reality. Both teachers "whoo" and clap and "yeah" and "OK", and 7,8 ( usually at the same time). As I am kind of relishing in this repetitive hell I bounce and look around me as these women in their 60s seems to be laboriously responding.There I am like Little Miss Bounce, smiling away seriously getting off on the adrenaline junkie vibe coming from the front of the room only to turn round and see who these people usually teach. No one is smiling. apart from me, some of the women are giving it lots, working hard , making it work. These women are serious, but there’s no spark, no vibrancy and the front of the room is killing it.
It’s like the landscape - it’s screaming to be run through, yelled in, activated, animated , and all they have done is build houses around big sand hills in the desert.
Golf carts come out on the streets of this gated community and the carts have their own garages. I appreciate that. Separate garage doors for golf carts with their own automatic door opener and closer. I see now how golf used to be a lazy man’s sport. Armchair to car to golf cart, swing, sit in golf cart.Get out, swing. Sit in golf cart, swing x however many it takes. Sit in golf cart, sit in car, sit in armchair. Repeat.
This golf course community hangs out at the gym. These folks might be aged, but they are ageing well. Like a good wine or a special cheese.
And then back at the detached rented house that has big furniture and lots of unused space i switch on the Tv and discover a couple of dance options. DAnce Your Ass Off - a show about overweight people who want to lose weight and do so through dance. It’s a competition of course. Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing with the Stars as Canadians know it and Biggest Loser rolled into one which saves me some time and some decision-making. By skipping over this one I don’t have to watch any of the aforementioned shows. Instead I forward arrow to Maurice Bejart’s Nutcracker from 2000, on Ovation TV. Visionaries have to be egotistical , right? Seems so here.
Anyway...one of the ads promotes Mark Morris’s Nutcracker, The Hard Nut ( 1991). Monday. Seen it - seen this ego, but I’ll watch it again when the sun goes down. It’s the Battle of the Nutcrackers World Games. Yes - you read that correctly. Competition- as incentive. Audience votes on their favourite. Of course they do. Whatever the consumer says goes these days. Maybe work that embraces this is the most contemporary of all. Nutcrackers set against each other by a TV company. At least these versions are radically different to each other and also different from the traditional version. Televised contemporary works is always a good thing. Actually Bejart keeps some of Petipa’s choreography in his work. Maybe I should pull back on my ‘ego’ attack. How is what I am trying to do with my choreography any less egotistical? It isn’t.
The sun beats down outside. This is winter in Arizona. I couldn’t bear the Summer heat. But I can bear this. I feel warm from the inside out and outside in. I feel like I have put myself in therapy! I am doing some healing...some rejuvenation...and if it takes spending a few days in a newly built ranch community in the desert to help me get there - then so be it.
There is nothing like hanging out with the old folks to make you feel young. Less cynically- there is nothing like reminding yourself of what your life is about by looking at how old people choose to live. Choice. Choices made now affect your choices later.