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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.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Yes Again

Every year I love getting my September Vogue in the mail. I’ve been a subscriber for at least 10 years and a reader, yes folks, since I was 13, maybe 12.

I love the advertisements. I love the letters from readers. I love the editor’s letter, the last page, the cover. But most of all I love the crazy thing they call haute couture and the fantastical way that it’s photographed.

Any tour mate of mine can tell you that on long plane or van rides they will eventually hear my careful ripping of page after page. I collect book reviews, recipes, essays. But mostly I rip out portions of pages just to capture a zany hat or shoe or skirt length. These things eventually go into a folder where I sift through them when questing for costume ideas.

The September Vogue particularly thrills me because of its time peg to all things autumn, my favorite season. The enormity inspires me; this year boasts 798 pages. It’s like a phone book or a bible or those old Spiegel catalogs. It makes me want to buy school shoes. (And so I did. Found great deep purple wedges at Target. $17.99 and not even on sale: slightly unsensible but way cute. Then bought a pair of Dansko Mary Jane clogs: way sensible yet still cute, the ultimate back-to-JSB-shoe, in brown of course.)

Returning to James Sewell Ballet at the end of every summer feels exactly like going back to school, butterflies and all. You’d think after all these years (this is my 15th season with the company!) that I’d be over this particular butterfly effect. Alas, no. I even plan what I’m wearing and my lunch.

At three weeks in, I’ve settled in to a rhythm. I’m back in shape (even wearing pointe shoes all day), complete with requisite about-to-fall-off left big toenail and another one ingrown with a podiatrist appointment lined up for next week.

It feels good, being part of the team again after my indie summer that I think I’m finally ready to let go of, it was so amazing. Some of it I recorded here and some of it has not yet made it in due to lack of time, inability to articulate, or both. Like my ripping out of portions of pages, I will attempt to capture the highlights here…

After five weeks in Portland Jack and I went to Europe. I actually committed to going, to dedicating 12 whole days to a relationship and not to work. We had a blast, a ball. We missed trains and didn’t sweat it. We begged for tickets in front of a theater in Paris and actually got in to the astounding show: Wim Vandekeybus’ dance company. I could go on and on about our doings, but here’s the biggie: Jack proposed. In Saltzburg. On top of a fortress. There were tears. We took pictures. And I wasn’t ready.

But the proposal put the marriage conversation on the table. It took me awhile to get to the point where I didn’t squint at the notion of (again!) discussing invitations and food and dresses and flowers…all the crap that gets in the way of the actual union, the big, brave decision to wed and do life together as legal and spiritual partners.

So we kept it to ourselves. I started seeing my therapist again upon returning home. I needed to process, but I wanted no commentary, just a reflection back. And so in late July, on a Sunday when we had just returned from a night on a sailboat in Duluth, when I had a Scrabble date with a friend and also a METRO piece due the next day, I said Yes. In the midst of my busy life, I said Yes.

I needed those 2 months of thinking time. Time to continue mourning Jim and that whole scenario of what I thought my life with him would be. A surprise was also needing to mourn the loss of my newfound independence. Smack! I bumped up squarely (again!) into my old and tired (oh, I’m so tired of this one) belief, something about not being able to have a successful career and a successful relationship at the same time. Well, there it is. And here’s a brand new pointe shoe. Let’s just shatter that one, shall we?

And so, Yes!

Jack and I sat on the news another 2 weeks. My mom was coming to town soon to see my newest piece, “small aida”, in the MN Fringe Festival. We wanted to tell our mothers first and in an intimate setting. (We stood in a circle in Jack’s mother’s kitchen, crying and drinking gin and tonics. Sweet!)

Creating “small aida” with Stephanie was pure joy. Our friendship of 19 years solidified into a thing I can climb up, wrap my arms around, stand upon. She is a sister in art and Scorpioness. Our piece surpassed my expectations and grew richer with each performance. So satisfying, gratifying. And to perform in Theatre de la Jeune Lune, as possibly one of the last shows in that special space, was a poignant honor.

Then I went to Alaska for a week to set a ballet of James’ and excerpts of another. JSB will tour there next April to perform with the fine dancers of Alaska Dance Theater.

The following week had me in Duluth choreographing a new commissioned work for Minnesota Ballet, a gem of a company. I created “Flying Over Greenland” and I’m so happy with it. It’s en pointe yet does not compromise upper body movement or movement into and out of the floor. Here are the section names: Floe, Flora, Melt, Fauna, Fissure, Fly. (Can’t wait to see the premiere next weekend in Ladysmith, WI.)

Then a blessed week fully off before returning to JSB.

Last week I had a residency at Carleton College. I re-staged the first movement of my Fringe piece from last summer, “We’ll Survive If We Don’t Protect Ourselves”. Originally a quartet for 2 women and 2 men, it lives on at Carleton as a female septet. I couldn’t be happier with the results. Those dancers are intelligent and hard-working.

And I’m tired, but good and happy too on this last day of summer. Now, on to Vogue…


Anonymous Green Balloons said...

Congratulations! You're a wonderful person and deserve all the best that life has to offer.

12:33 PM  

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