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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, March 14, 2008


It is the end of a long, hard week, and I am pleasantly exhausted. I could sleep for another week. However there are a lot things for which I must muster, not the least of which is JSB’s project with Uri Sands.

Uri’s choreography is beautiful. The steps are sliding, fluid, graceful even when reversing direction on a dime. The use of plie is so important. His work goes beyond groundedness; it turns over the rich soil.

I first worked with Uri in 2000 when he danced with JSB for a fall season. He started a project group a few years later, and when he launched his company, TU Dance, in 2005, I was in the inaugural concert.

Funny, that. It was such an honor to be there, but I was surprised to discover that I really struggled with the work. Granted, I missed some key rehearsals where some basic movement phrases were taught. And though I was taught the material by the other dancers, I didn’t learn it from the horse’s mouth, thus losing a generation in the translation. So when variations were created upon those main themes, I felt doubly underwater.

I remember also struggling with claiming space in the room. For pieces for which I was double cast, going over material on the side was barely an option in the oddly shaped U of M studio we were using. (A rehearsal space should be rectangular, like a stage!)

Then there were all my questions. I had a million of them, so many I didn’t know where to begin. “What angle, specifically, is that leg supposed to be on?” “What’s the motivating body part for that turn?” “What are the counts here?”…I was feeling in such a deficit learning-wise that all I could access were the tiny things, things I guess I felt I could hold on to. In retrospect, what I actually needed, what I eventually came around to grasping, was the gestalt. I lacked a big-picture understanding of what I was doing.

I ended up having a fine time performing. There were two weekends with chances at multiple pieces. It was an invaluable experience, and I think my dancing went to a deeper place. I was eventually able to find my voice within the work. It just took awhile, and for that I was disappointed.

I am happy to report that this time around, almost three years later, I am capturing the gestalt. I am discovering that my dancing has changed again. I am freer. I don’t hold on to and bare down on so many invisible safety nets. My plie is deeper. New chanels are open, and that includes in my brain and the way I am learning material. It is pouring into the top of my head out flowing out of my body. My skills certainly aren’t perfect, but they are closer to my potential than they were before, and for that I am so thankful.

Each day existing as a dancer is a real gift. Ours is such an ephemeral form that one must grasp periods of growth and success and utter thanks. (Like I thank my 37-year old body, and marvel that I am still learning and in many ways getting better!)

Next week with Uri will be hard and great I have no doubt. At the end of the process we’ll have two studio showings, but in a way they don’t matter. The gifts are already opening.


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