Crash Ballet

I had a surprisingly interesting conversation with the guy cutting my hair the other day. It turned out he had studied dance in college, but, roughly fifteen years ago, had been forced to find other work as both age and a nagging injury took their toll.

He mentioned various forms of movement therapy that exist for coping with, and even reversing, these sorts of injuries, which led to a conversation about styles of dance that might have been specifically invented not as art but as medicine, as a means of physical convalescence for aging performers, even choreographic styles devised for performance by injured dancers.

My barber then referred to a particular type of movement—whose name I can’t remember—that was all about using the body’s skeleton, rather than its musculature, for standing up and down, as well as something about spreading energy into the floor, not resisting gravity, etc., but the way he described it reminded me of studies I had read that suggested drunk people are often less injured in car crashes than their sober counterparts because their bodies don’t resist the movement. They are simply flung along with the motion of the vehicle. Sober people should thus learn not to clench up and go rigid if they’re about to be in a car accident; they should instead loosen up and, in effect, go with the flow.

Note, of course, that this is not scientific advice; I was speculating with someone in a barber shop.

Nevertheless, we went on to discuss the fact that car accidents are so common in American culture today that it would not be out of the question to devise some sort of movement-preparation course for kids to study in gym class—like tai chi for car wrecks—to help them safely interact with crashing vehicles. A kind of preparatory crash ballet.

Would this be more interesting or fun than dodgeball, or floor hockey, or whatever else it is that kids do in gym class these days? Teach kids how to be flung through windshields, how to roll out of collapsing houses in an earthquake, how to jump from burning buildings, or other survival techniques for the everyday catastrophes that might exist for all of us, hiding just around the corner.

3 thoughts on “Crash Ballet”

  1. Somewhat uncomfortably, two images popped to my mind when I read this. The first is Martin Riggs/Mel Gibson in the first Lethal Weapon, where he gets out of two major dead ends in the movie via an injured and disjointed shoulder. The other image was a Goya tapestry cartoon from the late 1700s: The Straw Manikin.
    https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-straw-manikin/a1af2133-ff7b-4f47-a4ac-030cb23cb5b6
    They both have the feeling of things that work on impact because they are broken to begin with. Is that the ultimate goal? Like Bruce Banner’s secret at the end of The Avengers:
    “Doctor Banner? Now might be a really good time for you to get angry.”
    “That’s my secret, Cap: I’m always angry”

    1. That’s Lethal Weapon 2!

      I didn’t know that painting; thanks for the heads up. I love the poetry of something being “broken to begin with,” and thus able to survive future impacts.

  2. Okay let’s try this: I meant “Lethal Weapon the movie franchise” rather than “Lethal Weapon the TV series”; therefore, appropriately, “the first Lethal Weapon”. Or, maybe, but just maybe, I got the movie wrong. No wonder I couldn’t actually place the scenes in my mind inside the plot of the first movie.

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