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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

I am a dancer with Minneapolis based James Sewell Ballet, a small, contemporary ballet company. I also choreograph independently.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I just returned from NYC, my third trip this summer. Sunday night was J’s wedding, her second, and I am inspired.

She married S, soon to be a Rabbi. This Jewish wedding, therefore, pulled out all the stops: the chuppah, the broken glass, the recitations, and best of all, at least to me, the dancing!

Upon arrival at the reception, we were occupied with cocktails and h’orderves. Eventually we made our way upstairs to our dinner tables, the Klezmer band in full swing. And then they came, J and S, newly married. S carried her in, and they commenced their dance, our dance. This epic must have lasted 20 minutes. One by one we all chained up, holding hands, letting one another in, and surprisingly, not stepping on toes. On and on we circled, with them in the middle. Changing forms was fluid. Chairs found, the newleyweds were lifted exhaultantly aloft. Then they sat in front while we entertained. B and I did Modern Dance to the Klezmer riffs.

I am reminded that their ceremony began with J circling S. Around and around she went, smiling increasingly as if S was relaying a new joke with each pass. I thought about my first piece of choreography, “The Virgin in the Garden”. Towards the end of the second section, “Avoidance”, I run concentric circles around the man. I always thought of that moment, that desperate running, as akin to the scene in the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve: a desperate reversal of planetary revolution, an attempt to go back in time.

Not so here with J circling S. She seeks not to go back in time, but forward, ever forward, toward their new life, their new love that continues to increase, represented by that circle, and their wedding bands: the unending flow of love.

That’s an interesting concept. I suppose on some level an unending flow of love is possible, even when a marriage ends. The connection is still there, just different, maybe more capable of continuing the love for having severed the circle, turning it into a line, setting it free. If the circle starts to strangle sometimes the thing to do is open it wide.

After dinner, toasts and long, long prayers, the dancing recommenced. I hooked up with L and exercised my new groove, ending in a dip. Then B and I, for the last dance of fhe evening, went nuts: improvisational contemporary ballet to an oldies balled. Spinning in our flowered party dresses and high heels, we echoed the dance of earlier, this time a girlie duet, a winding down and a send-off.

I ended this wedding with my own circle. Down a level there was a fountain; I’d been eying it all night. I took my shoes off, hitched up my dress, and circled. Feet soaked and legs sprayed, this was a baptism, a rite, a ritual, a passage. Indeed, I am blessed.

A week before I am slated to begin my thirteenth season with James Sewell Ballet I contemplate the coming repertory. The wedding has turned out to be the perfect research because, among other things, we are reconstructing James’ “Klezmer Dances”. I’ve been wanting to revisit this one for years. The music is infectious, and the various sections come together to form an impression of a community that transcends specific experience. The piece is en pointe, however my solo is blessedly barefoot, my favorite state.

I am in a circle of candles, about 8’ in diameter. I dance to a solo oboe, a metaphor for a Rabbi communing directly with God. I begin and end the same every time, but the bulk of the solo is an improv based on prescribed movements and intentions. I remember the first time around really struggling with this in rehearsal. It was hard for me to muster the appropriate intensity when in the studio. I probably felt inhibited in the bare, light rehearsal room, especially with folks watching. It’ll be interesting, therefore, to see how things go this time. Aside from the obvious excitement of looking forward to performing, I am mostly excited about working with James on this again. We really hit on something during the initial creation period, and my hope is to go deeper, creating a spiral out of the circle, going around again, but on a different, higher level.

As my summer winds down, I think about the little spiral that’s formed these three months. For awhile I was indeed turning, just in the same damn spot. I wore bare the surface under my feet. Now, however, I am beginning to move, to spiral instead of merely circle. I look forward to returning to work, to going deeper, to bringing my recent experience to my craft.

At the end of the solo, after the contained whirlwind of dancing, I blow. The candles, like with a birthday wish, extinguish all at once. But the impression of light is still there, lingering in the mind’s eye, the promise of a circle.


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