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  • Helanius J. Wilkins

20/20 Vision: No Filter

In a rare moment, the title for this blog post came to me before I had a sense of what I was going to write about. Although many thoughts have crossed my mind, I have been struggling. What comes easy to write about is not what I want to write about right now. My spirit is deflated by the continuous stream of happenings that are polluting the air. The ugly belly of America – a place that professes to be the land of the free, where opportunity exists for all, and individual dreams can become reality – renders as a place that causes me to repeatedly call into question whether the morals and values of a democracy have all but been forgotten. This exhausts me. My heart, while continuing to hold onto hope, wants this space to be for recuperation to have the strength and courage to carry on.

In Framework, a practice I began developing and teaching in 2011 that transforms technique class into a laboratory for examining, exploring, and discovering bodily movements in real time, a guiding theme is recovery through activity. Recuperation is achieved through reframing conditions and shifting one’s relationship to breath as a means to continue in what is an exhaustive, nonstop process in construction. With this blog post I feel that I am employing recovery through activity. Self-care is realized as actioning dreaming and remembering. I lead by doing activities that may reveal solutions for the change that I desire to see. In some cases, such activities may even be the solutions themselves. This approach to engaging the practice of recovery through activity and reframing is allowing me to find second, third, fourth, fifth, and so on winds to resolutely seek the dreams of a more kind, gentle, compassionate, and socially just world. I continue to lean into my curiosities to put ideas into action. I continue to unapologetically show up. I continue to keep art close, a vehicle that has long been home for actioning many of my ideas lovingly, thoughtfully, meaningfully, and for building long-lasting relationships to spark rich conversation.

20/20 Vision is defined as what an average individual can see on an eye chart when they are standing 20 feet away. What I see 20 feet away is a space that is polluted with senseless noise, and one where fear and darkness prevail. Isolation, suffering, and feeling trapped frame the way of life. Passion is misunderstood and compassion is nonexistent. This space is empty for me.

My dreams, curiosities, and art illuminate a Helanius that is unfiltered. I dance to fill the empty space. Through dance I confront my fears, my isolation, my loneliness and my suffering. Through dance I transform my darkness into light. Through dance I supplant senseless noise with symphonic silence; reveal what is in my heart, my mind and my soul. And through dance I engage communities to fill the empty space. What I see 20 feet away is my unyielding quest for understanding and belonging by both examining and challenging the architecture of human interactions.

My spirit moves me to fill the empty space. I stand in my truth without apology. Hearing Sonya Renee Taylor’s The Body is Not an Apology gave me inspiration to create a new solo dance, “Untitled Meditation,” for a one-time run as part of the inaugural Boulder Arts Outdoors Festival that took place the weekend of August 14-16, 2020. In that moment, I chose my heart to fill the empty space.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time” is one of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou. It is deeply resonating with me as I reflect on myself, others, and the world around me while holding space for recuperation. In signing off I am letting this quote move through my heart, mind, and body. I hope that it inspires you to take an unfiltered look within as a way to be reminded of your connection to others and the world around you.

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