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Who is Your Inner Dancer?: Jordan Matter’s Dancers Among Us

29 Aug

One of my favorite gifts I received was a book called Dancers among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday by Jordan Matter. It was a non-special occasion gift – in fact it was a just because gift – and I feel that even this fact adds meaning to how I interpret the book.

Jordan Matter said it best in the first page, “A book made to make you dream. A book to take your breath away. A book not just for the dancers among us, but for the dancer inside each of us.”

Upon first glance it is clear that this is a photography book capturing nuances of dancers doing everyday things in extraordinary ways. But upon deeper reflection, it’s evident that it is not only so.

Delving straight into the book, my favorite chapters are “exploring”, “grieving” and “working,” life’s anthems. Within these chapters are some of my favorite photographic moments. Some of the titles of said chapters, such as “craving”, “transfer”, and “work boots” are only a glimpse into a “dancey” way that one’s everyday life can seem like a dance. But what do these glimpses REALLY show.

Everyone has heard – or so norm dictates – that “A picture is worth 1,000 words” but what does that mean? Being the stickler that I am, I love answering a question with another question. So … what is dance to you?

What I love about this book is that it actually creates the situations and captures images of dance in everyday movement. Just as seen on the chapter “working” with a picture titled “transfer”. I’m sure everyone can relate to rushing to catch that one train. And even if you don’t call yourself a dancer, in that moment you are. In that moment you can feel exactly what that picture is emoting. Dashing and grooving your way past the thick 7 am crowd of people who have great mornings and made their coffee at home while skipping and whistling their way to the train station – yeah, those people.

That’s why I love this book. It’s exactly that, a celebration of joy in the everyday illustrated to us through dancers among us.

But what makes a dancer? And what is dance? The dictionary defines it as “a series of movements that match the speed and rhythm of a piece of music”. So getting to work, doing the laundry, crunching those numbers, going for that coffee run is a dance. We are all dancing our way through life.

We are all extraordinary – mothers, fathers, husbands, business partners – going through life the best way we can. Trying to break that habit, trying to catch that train. That’s what I find so great about this book. It’s not all pictures of course, there are some stories behind certain photos and we even get a glimpse into the creative process and not just the beautiful outcome. Which is a lot like life. Everything is in some way, shape or form a dance: parenthood, loneliness, depression, happiness, anxiety, and loss. We dance our way through what we feel, through where we are and who or what we are. We are all dancers. And even in the midst of the ugly, of the terrible and unrecognizable moments, there is always beauty living amongst it.

Written by:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

“what sad people do when they are lonely looks a lot like me at the grocery store…” – Sabrina Benaim The Loneliest Sweet Potato

15 Aug


I was first drawn to Sabrina Benaim’s Depression and Other Magic Tricks by YouTube’s Button Poetry trending spoken word/poetry video called “The Loneliest Sweet Potato”.  You can borrow Depression and other Magic Tricks from BCCLS Libraries.

While I don’t think this is a book suited for everyone’s taste in prose, I do admit there is some raw humanity in a lot of the pages within this book. Whether it’s the title of a poem that impacts you more than the poem itself or if it’s one line that stands out within the mix of pages. This book is worth a glance, even if only to find that one line that’ll resonate deeply within you.

For example, the first page reads “what you see is what you get, / but that’s not all there is.”

This alone intrigued me because it is so true and yet can feel so false. To some people – in my opinion – what you see of course is not what you get as we are all just charading through everyday life trying to portray even if only a glimpse of who we are to those around us. Just as the iceberg analogy I’m sure everyone has heard, that you only see 10% of it and 90% of it is below the surface. This statement is very much relatable to many people. But I know there can be people that may not relate to this statement, and I think that is something so powerful and intriguing that it beguiles me. Whether or not the majority truly believe in their own belief – or if it’s just a reactional state dependent on past circumstances that have caused them to feel such a way – is still remarkable. This, I feel, is what draws attention to the question “what is one’s reality?” or “what is one’s truth?”

On a separate scale I also felt drawn to another poem on page 35 titled “gravity speaks” and it reads “if i am holding you without hands, / how am i supposed to let go?”

This statement/question feels so profound to me and though it makes absolute sense because the title is “gravity speaks” it can also go much deeper than just the literal.

Gravity is a force, a natural phenomenon, so by definition it makes sense for it to be something you can feel without feeling. But what about love? What about God? What about supernatural? Some can say that these are also phenomena that can be held without holding. It’s all about what one claims as their reality.

Sabrina Benaim’s Depression and other Magic Tricks is worth a comb through. If not for the sake of poetry, then for the sake of reality.

Written by:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

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