I spent quite a few hours with my youngest daughter watching all the past episodes and then the grand finale of So You Think You Can Dance. We were both so much in awe of the talent and dedication of all the contestants. It was almost sad to see it end we enjoyed it so much! I am very envious of those with the ability to move so gracefully and seemingly effortlessly. Of course if you pay close attention you notice that at the end of the dance they are breathless and dripping sweat! And they spend hours practicing and perfecting their moves. My daughters dance team also practices visualization, where they sit and picture the perfect dance in their minds. It takes a lot of work to be a dancer, even if you do have natural talent.
As I was thinking about how much I would enjoy being able to dance with such beauty I began to compare the art of quilting with the art of dance. One of the things I enjoyed about watching all the dances was how each dance told a story, and how each element contributed to the emotions they called forth with the music. And I was reminded about how when I make a quilt, that quilt also tells a story. Maybe not in so many words, but each one has something to say about my life and what is going on around me. I think of all the dramatic quilts made in response to 9/11, how quilters poured the emotions they were feeling into designs that expressed their feelings about this tragedy.
Like a dancer, my work requires lots of practice and repetition. Many days I do the same thing over and over, sewing half square triangle after half square triange. If it's not right I do it over until it is. The sewing machine provides my music, humming along swiftly when sewing strips and in short bursts sewing patches together. My scissors keep time, snipping thread as I go. The colors I use enhance my design, like a lovely costume makes the dance even better. The quilting is the partner, ebbing and flowing with the rhythm of the piecing, enhancing the movement of the design.
So, maybe I can't dance, but my quilts dance for me. They tell the story of my life, or the story of the person they are made for. The fabric, the colors, the piecing, the quilting, it all adds subtle layers to the entire picture. They are a lasting performance that, even though not everyone can see or understand it, tell the story of my dance.