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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.

Friday, August 11, 2006


Last Saturday was my one-night-only performance of “Carmen” with the MN Orchestra. I was commissioned to choreograph a five-minute chunk as part of this semi-staging. As the Fringe continues, I must admit a part of me wanted to be out seeing shows. Having seen two earlier in the day, I felt my Ultra Pass burning in my pocket. The juxtaposition of venues, Orchestra Hall vs. the Playwright’s Center, was, well, it was noted.

As we stretched and warmed up for our entrance at the top of Act II, we followed along, listening to the monitors. The first burst of applause came like a thunderclap. We were playing to a sold-out house! Adreneline increased, and suddenly I was warm and ready.

The four of us made our way to the stage level and waited in the semi-darkness. M and I commenced a waltz in the wings, my gypsy skirt flaring. I felt female and in my element, at the ready to perform.

The theme this summer, however, has not been focused on performing. It’s rather been about the opposite: letting it all hang loose, letting the unexpected meltdowns occur, honoring the rythyms of my grief.

Our cue came, and we followed the chorus out in front of the orchestra. S and E commenced their duet with M and I following 24 counts later, precise as math. Surprisingly I felt on-my-leg, solid, technically precise. I opened my face, I saw M and past him into the balconies, and I realized I hadn’t performed since the James Sewell Ballet season, along with my marriage, ended in May.

As gypsies we were mandated to be gritty, smarmy. In short, slutty.

What a relief!
A fitting end to this phase of my grief.

After the show there was a special dinner in the greenroom as this was the summer season closer. Near the end the conductor said a few words. Blah blah and then…just as I was sinking my teeth into another bite of dessert, there it was, the l-word: love. Suddenly this enormous enterprise, this anti-Fringe, was boiled down to this basic common denominator. I could have been at the Fringe, or anywhere. I was home.

It all, all of it, boils down to that. As merde gifts (Dancers say “merde” to one another before a show. “Shit” in French, this is good luck, so that you won’t say it onstage. Merde gifts, therefore, are good luck presents.) I had given heart shaped little dishes, for earrings or change or whatever. And I found myself saying, “… because my heart is getting bigger.”

Indeed. Its capacity grows a little each day. I don’t always feel this progress. But when my shirts are ill fitting, like on last Wednesday, I think this is why.

I have absorbed a mountain of hard news, and it has had to go somewhere. Sometimes I’ve felt like throwing up; I shed a bunch of salty tears, leaking out mostly as a solo. Still, a critical mass of emotion remains, and my heart chooses to absorb.


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