The Dance of the Kitchen

For as long as I can remember dancing had always been a major part of my life. Even before I came into the world. I was carried by and then born to a dancer, who not long after became my very first dance teacher. After Mom, I took years and years worth of dance lessons, from other non-related teachers, once we worked out it was probably best to separate the roles of mother from dance teacher.  I took part performing in a dance company since the age of ten and carried on through college, directing a dance company myself thereafter, and receiving a Master’s Degree in Dance Anthropology after that.  Dance was practically my whole world for so long, that it’s sometimes strange for me to acknowledge that it no longer occupies such a large space in my life, and chunk of my time.  I will always look back lovingly, and very occasionally longingly, at the behind-the-curtain culture of the dance world I was such an active part of.  I still love dance just as much as I always had, just differently now.DSC_0230

The thing I have always loved most about dancing is the way it makes me feel.  When I hear a song I’m inspired by, my entire body just fills with the joyous need to move.  I become fully present, my thoughts go quiet and am simply happy to be in my body, in the moment. Not thinking too far into the future, or too far into the past. Just present.  When I changed professions it was motivated by the realisation that the thing I loved about dancing no longer required the need to study it any further than the moment I was experiencing it; at a concert, a festival or in the comfort of my own kitchen.

I came to terms with this new place for dance in my life when it finally clicked – the thing that I not only loved profoundly, but the thing that I could never know too much about, have too many experiences with. I realised that my childhood fascination with my grandmothers cooking, my natural link between the food I ate and the memories I had, my love of cultural anthropology because it meant discussing the crops people grew, the dishes they made and passed down. And my sheer joy and relentless need to open up the cupboards and making something new.  I discovered my deep love for food, and all that came with it.

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I love to eat. Of course I love to eat. But what I really love to do is to cook.  Cooking, for me, can be just as inspirational as hearing a great piece of music.  The thought of feeding people so easily inspires me to move, to express, to create.  Just the idea of cooking can compel me to open up the cupboards and the fridge, searching for ingredient pairings, pulling out produce and jars, immediately boiling the kettle. Organizing my thoughts and ideas while I chop and whisk, even when it’s not yet approaching mealtime. I become engrossed in the smells, colours, and sounds and can let my thoughts of anything other than the present moment simply drift away. I improvise, adjust seasoning, or cooking times as I go along. When I cook from inspiration like this, rather than the thrice-a-day grind, I tune in. I respond to my environment, my emotions, my care for the people I want to feed and whom I wish to bring joy and comfort. I produce the same kind of emotionally driven, present moment-focused result on the plate, as I used to conjure to create on the stage. It is my very own dance of the kitchen.

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