Penelope Freeh

Earth and Metal

Posted by on Feb 13 2016, in Uncategorized

My acupuncturist, an amazingly smart and intuitive woman, just informed me that I am Metal, one of the five elements of the Chinese acupuncture method she practices. The others are Earth, Fire, Wood and Water. Until she saw me dance she thought I was Earth.


In November she came to Renderings, my cabaret-like little show at the Four Seasons Dance Studio where I performed in three of the four works on the program. All were fierce, mighty dances, so on the one hand she saw only one dimension, but on the other I’d like to think that my dancing is multifaceted. Anyway, when she described the characteristics of Metal, it’s true, that’s me.


The thing that is sticking with me the most is that she said Metal people have one foot in heaven; we can see bigger possibilities than where we actually are. This is both amazing and torture inducing, this constant striving. And for me, who puts Earth forward to the world, that efforting is unnerving because a part of me just wants to get comfortable.


Metal isn’t only cold, sharp and pointy. She told me to think of malleable metals, not to mention molten ones, and when I do it starts to make even more sense. I can certainly be hard, stoic to the point to confusion to myself and others, but the molten does pour out, mostly when I dance I guess, or teach, when my heart cracks open by someone’s…what?…..oh!….striving.


I can’t help but think about the coincidental connection to the Elements trilogy I am making for Gem City Ballet in Ohio. The sections are Zinc, Native Copper and Cobalt. And the two I’ve completed? The metals! Zinc and Native Copper. Here’s what attracted me…


Zinc is sharp and pointy. It has a finger-like structure. When it burns it produces a substance like snow. And when humans have a deficiency they suffer, they contort, they lose their hair, become blind, forgetful….All these things made their way into my Zinc.


Native Copper, which I just completed, responds to the primitive in the word “native”, meaning uncombined, unalloyed. Left on its own, it is slightly soft and perhaps vulnerable. I had a section where they melted, one dancer against another, until they fell prone to the ground. Others rushed onstage, ushering in the Bronze Age and the start of civilization.


And Cobalt, well, it’ll be a pas de deux, a dance for two. I’ll make it sometime next season, and then the complete trilogy will be performed. Cobalt is glass of course and therefore fragile, breakable, delicate. I get to decide what characteristics I want to draw out, to frame. As ever, it will be informed by the dancers as well as my state of mind at the time of its making. I hope to be as in the zone as I was with the first two. I am in the zone now: a little tortured, a little pointy, a little cold, a little ready to melt.