The Butterfly Stretch

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Declined to State
Age: 21
Occupation: Student (Fine Arts Major)
Residence: Winnetka, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 23, 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

“I remember, we would wake up friggin’ early ass in the morning, and then, we would, like, warm up together and do the butterflies, with, like, our legs crossed, and we would, like, flutter, I don’t know… It’s a stretch, and um… then for some reason, we’d be okay, like, all the little girls, you’d see, like smiling, like oOOoOo… and then we’d do, like, the little circle—the arm circle things, and like you know, you were flying somewhere, like I could just imagine that. I was seven, that was, that was fun. It was fun, pretending to be a butterfly for a little while… because I guess you’re supposed to be graceful, with gymnastics in some sense.”

 

The informant recounted a stretching ritual she would perform with her gymnastics peers at the beginning of each class as something to help break the ice that existed between them at the beginning of the session. She found it especially helped shy or quiet kids and enabled her to talk to her friends after the moment of silliness (her and her peers pretending to be butterflies). She thought it might serve a purpose for her as a college student (“Like, can’t we all do butterflies in class, like, the first day of class?”).

I agree with the informant that a shared performance represents an opportunity for conversation because it creates a shared experience. This is similar, perhaps, to other types of “ice-breaker” performances for adults (which are often other sorts of games), though it has the added benefit of being an exercise.