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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, October 19, 2007

Notes from the Joyce


I just had the best shower since I’ve been here: consistently warm, full, heavy stream, long. But I get ahead of myself. It is actually Friday, and I’m having breakfast. Here’s what happened yesterday…

I opted to not take class with Gelsey in the AM. My calf greeted me with the promise of trouble ahead if I overdid things. I didn’t want to sit out of more jumps, or make the concrete trek uptown and back for that matter. So I went to the theater early to warm myself up. J and C were there too. A good, bonding time in the little studio below the stage.

Our review came out in the NY Times. It started off well (and with a beautiful picture), but then took a turn for the not-so-hot. And then the kicker: wrong information. E was said to have lip-synched her song Lonely House in Opera Moves. Oh, she absolutely does sing this one. Boy, that’s a piece of factual info that is so easy to access (by actually reading the program) that my burgeoning critical heart hurts. How easy it is to get a thing wrong, and cause frustrating upset if not outright damage. The upshot is that our press agent was contacted and she secured a retraction, to be published Saturday. That’s great, but to me the main point is bigger and even harder to bear: the fact that the critic did not seem to care enough to fact check properly. Which means that he didn’t really care about the show. Which means that his heart did not open. He did not allow the singularity of the company to seep into his bones. He did not absorb the fact that, yes indeed, we have a magnificent dancer in our midst who does indeed sing as well as dance, and that James created a special solo to accommodate that. The critic did not serve as our advocate, or an advocate for dance in general, and it hurts my heart.

Well, E blew the folks out of the theater last night. Her song was deep and warm and indeed lonely. She played with the timing, made different and stunning choices with her phrasing, and I was rivited in the wings. Turning poison into medicine, that girl (woman) is wise.

It was like the audience in general rallied toward us in the dark. They were so present for every section of Opera Moves. They seemed to dare the critic to stand behind his shallow words. He’s swallowing (at least some of) them now.

Again, I get ahead of myself. In the afternoon, after our rehearsal for a ballet in next week’s Saint Paul show, I had a late lunch with my old friend/boss/mentor Eliza. The inventor of the Gaynor Minden Pointe Shoe, she is a gem of a human. We had such a good talk, about things personal and dance-related, that I was again struck at how rich it all is, my life and the folks in it. Her anecdote on the privledge of directing Melissa Hayden in a photo shoot to promote the shoe was hilarious, as well as a testament to that amazing creature, the ballerina. I feel as though I’m not made of the same materials as the Melissa Haydens of this world. Well, whatever I’m made of, I’m well-worn with gratitude for the privilege of inhabiting a small corner of this crazy niche market.

Another cat nap. N and I wound our way to the theater. My mother appeared, just in from Charleston, and delivered merde gifts for the company: awesome slippers from some remote neighborhood of Queens. I love my burgundy chinoiserie ones. J hilariously pranced around in his baby blue fuzzy ones, his heels hanging 2” off the back. E and N did a lip-synching duet. I love these folks.

So then the show ( I fell in Schoenberg Serenade! I fell at the Joyce!) S did a little touch-down too, in sympathy and solidarity. Ah, friend.

Afterward there was a party in a restaurant uptown. Fantastic food, friends. A former dancer with the company, J, was there. I knocked on the window in greeting. He beckoned me inside; my heart swelled to overflowing to see him. He radiates happiness and himness. From him I learn the lesson of being utterly myself, no matter what. (I send a mental thanks to new boyfriend, with whom I can be, and am, myself.)

Heading in to the weekend. Five shows in three days. Onward.


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