“If we took all our stories and our experiences to the side, everyone would be the same. There is no difference. We would be so much more connected.”
However, it is through those stories that brought us together in the first place. Our very stories connected us in this moment. Though our conversation was rooted in the past, it eventually evolved, revealing a marvelous moment unfolding right before our eyes.
Apollonia Holzer’s unique dancing journey began in a convent in Austria. There she began learning and performing contemporary dance, dancing in churches and oftentimes with children. Completely enamored with dance she left the convent after 14 years and moved to New York City to begin training, but of course, not without a blessing from the bishop who had told her, “You can leave the convent, but please keep on dancing.”
At the age of 33, she trained at the Martha Graham Studios, taking class in ballet, Simonson, and more. Coming from a background in musicality and interpretation, she lacked technique and experience compared to the other students. It was a stark contrast from the work she did before, but she did not let the rigidity and discipline of the training take her spirit away. Despite having no formal training, she was often approached by others who complemented her on her dancing. But what was so striking about her?
Her movement was in the present. One could argue, that her past brought her to this present moment, which is rightfully true. It was her past stories – her artistic, spiritual, and musical development in the convent – that influenced her movement. However, her movement was always of the present moment. For “every moment has a soul, and when the soul is not in the movement, it gets robotic, mechanical,” she mentioned.
It was these moments built upon that past that made her movement story so unique and not so robotic or mechanical. When the exercises in dance began getting boring, she decided to take on Pilates. Pilates brought to her a dynamic that would evolve her understanding of dance and of life – awareness.
She began developing an awareness of life’s interconnectedness. From interweaving and influential stories to one’s posture and breath support, each connected and each contributed to the development of unique stories. But despite different paths, different stories, and different levels of awareness, Apollonia discovered something much deeper – we are all the same.
She brought this awareness in her dance pieces, in her own dancing, and working with Pilates clients. Both this individuality and community awareness translated to the body – both in literal and figurative senses. Encouraging consciousness in something as simple as breathing, Apollonia observed as I inhaled and exhaled. With such minor adjustments made, even bigger changes developed. It was incredibly moving to see how a simple change in imagery changed my breath, posture, and along with that consciousness and confidence. What a transformation! But a transformation for me may translate differently to someone else, simply because of our molded stories that framed our perspectives.
Still, there was a change, if all but a small one. And that was one of Apollonia’s goals, to simply “touch people’s lives.” I am sure she has brought to others what she had brought to me, an understanding that though all paths differ – while some of us had formal training and others not, while some are more present in our movement and others more robotic, while some breathe more deeply and others involuntarily – our paths all lead to one thing – a unity, a bond that we’ve all had once before.
For more information on Apollonia, please take a look at her website.