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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.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Notes from the Joyce

First off, it appears that it is confusing when sometimes I use names when referring to folks while at other times I use initials. From now on, in reference to James Sewell Ballet, I will name names. I get confused too. Hopefully this will help.

The Weekend

With five shows in three days and a mother in town, there’s little time left for recording thoughts. Instead of a blow by blow, here’s the gestault…

The weekend was great. There’s something superhero-like about dancing when you’re tired yet profoundly in shape. The body learns to count on its capacity to conserve and then serve-up when necessary. How smart.

I had friends in the audience for nearly every show. Michael came on Friday, then went out with all of us. An ex-boyfriend turned old friend, our first date was supposed to have been seeing Feld at the Joyce. Their curtain got damaged in a flood and operations closed down, at least for that show. James had left the company by then anyway, (about 1991) but I like the near-connection nevertheless.

Saturday night brought Anna and Griff. Anna danced with us for three or four years. She remains a gem in my heart, allowing me to crash their wedding last May, and taking me in for a week last summer (as newlyweds!) while I went to another wedding and attended a Robert Battle workshop. So good to catch up with Anna, to laugh like we used to, especially on tour.

After the matinee on Sunday I was surprised by Jacques, a new friend, met at a Dance Critics Association conference held over a weekend in June in NYC. We had a quick lunch and coffee then went our separate ways with the promise of staying in touch. A former Erick Hawkins dancer and dance historian, he was able to give honest, lucid and imaginative feedback on the show. What a gift; I’m looking forward to sharing that with James. The best piece was when he said it was clear that James has been careful about what he’s built. He is not a flash-in-the-pan choreographer breezing into NY. He’s instead bringing what he’s steadily built: a company of dancers increasingly adept at his “style” and who are able to portray their respective humanities onstage.

Sunday night was probably our fullest house of the run. For the Joyce’s 25th anniversary, they are selling all Sunday PM shows for $25. We needed that extra audience energy. Out with a bang.

Gorged at Italian place in celebration. Moved on to another diner/bar in the meat packing district with friends John and Denis in tow. Again, so gratifying for me to merge worlds. Integration: body, soul and friends.

Throughout I talked to boyfriend. (New cell phone good.) From afar I felt healing comfort without weirdness or weird relying.

We returned today pleasantly exhausted and looking forward to resting. We open this coming weekend for our season here. We’ll be ready.

So the upshot is: this is a great group. Each dancer is magnificent and singular. We are all indeed human. We can act out, but we also come together and do great things, like cause Denis to “walk on air” for the whole next day after seeing us.

We can contain it all, all the quirks and setbacks and then inevitable successes and wins. That’s what it’s all about: performance as process, company as process. It’s all there, here.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anna said...

Thanks for writing. The audience always wonders what goes on inside a dancer's head! I also wrote up your Sunday show at the Joyce: http://annamcdonald.typepad.com/seeking_system/2007/10/a-few-things-to.html
All the best to you and the company!

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Mark in Houston said...

Greetings from Houston!

Penelope,

Missed your energy, polish, and endless sense of wonder in the Amahl this season. Not to take anything away from the Amahl for this year, but your presence onstage is singularly brilliant.

Hope the season is going well. Best to you for a great 2008.

Cheers from Houston and the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.

Mark Powell
Managing Director
www.mark.powell.org

10:37 PM  
Blogger Cassandra Shaffer said...

Hey there,
Just wishing you (and the rest of JSB) all the best for your performances of 'Amahl' this weekend! Have a wonderful run and a great holiday. :)

Cassandra

12:46 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

Hi Penny!
I'm not sure how I stumbled upon your blog, but I'm very glad I did. You probably don't remember me, but I was an extra in Amahl in 1997 (I believe), and it was one of the best experiences I've ever had. I didn't go to a professional school, so I didn't have a whole lot of performance experience (other than recitals), and just getting to be around you amazing JSB dancers and watch you rehearse, take class with you, not to mention actually be onstage with you, etc. was absolutely wonderful. I wrote all my college entrance essays on my Amahl experience. So I just wanted to say hi and thank you for being such an inspiration...feel free to pass this along to James and Sally, too :). Best of luck to all of you!

5:12 PM  

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