HAPPINESS=Dance

DANCEworks 10th reunion, final bow Lobero Theater

Do you ever wonder what part of you has remained unchanged from childhood and what you  lost on the way to adulthood?

For me it’s been quite clear what I’ve held onto.  I began dance class at age three and there is still there is little I enjoy more than watching “good”dance or dancing myself, as it was for me at age three.

Doug Varone, Nocturne

Yesterday, I watched a run through of Doug Varone’s new work, Somewhere, created here at DANCEworks during our 2019 season.  The work is a new interpretation of the musical score from West Side Story.  I was enthralled.  Not only by the dancers, but by the smiles on a few  acquaintances who were watching  it with me.  Then I spied the look of pleasure on the face of its creator, Doug Varone. I felt even happier.

Doug Elkins dancers.

One of the most satisfying parts of the DANCEworks residencies is the joy that comes along with helping to make a choreographer’s dance dreams come true.  In our case, it means providing time and space and other support  for dance artists at the Lobero Theater as they bring their dance dreams to reality.  Often, I learn that these dreams have percolating for years, waiting to be born.

Brian Brooks, I’m Going to Explode

It’s occurred to me during this recent process of introspection, there is  nothing else for the past 21 years that could have bought me more pleasure.  That’s a strong statement, but I stand by it.

Larry Keigwin, Ballad #1

The hurdles, the anxiety, the excitement, the trust we have of each other,  and ultimately the creation of the new work, is a magnificent endeavor to be a part of.  I feel so lucky to have been a participant  for so many years.  I’ve been touched by the magic.

Mark Dendy, Rumsfeld, from Elvis Everywhere

For those reading this, who have come to enjoy and support SUMMERDANCE, I hope you’ve been touched as well.  We’ve done our best to share with you the startling diversity of modern dance, the talent that lies within its walls and the good will we share with the artists.  When great art thrives, we all thrive. I expect, if you attend the DANCEworks performances on September 6 & 7, you will leave the theatre in an elevated mood with a new appreciation for our shared humanity.

A THANK YOU to everyone who has helped make this residency possible!

Adam Barruch, The Worst Pies in London from Sweeney Todd

For right now, buy your tickets to come see Doug Varone’s dance at the Lobero Theater, September 6 & 7.  Go to Lobero.com or call the box office (805) 9630761, for tickets.

photos of our DANCEworks choreographers by David Bazemore.

Use It or Lose It!

Many years ago, in the summer of my youth, I designed an exercise and movement program for older adults.  I even convinced Georgia Public television to film me leading the programs with the intention of broadcasting them as a series and selling them to Senior Centers. It was successful and it was gratifying.  It also became popular. Continue reading “Use It or Lose It!”

Going Home!?

It was was dark outside.  All I could see were small clusters of lights as our plane came in to land, but I knew the unseen rural New England landscape well. In years past this landing meant I was coming home from college or in later years for a  visit with my ageing parents, my young children by my side.  Feelings now, as then, were a mixture of anticipation and melancholy.  The melancholy was from the recognition that time was closing in on the remaining time left between me and my parents. Those disturbing feelings are a visitor that accompanies advancing age, deepening recognition that the clock is ticking and adding a bittersweet quality to events that were once never given much thought.

cheesy dec

The empty airport concourse signalled immediately that no one would be there any longer for my homecoming. It had been decades ago, but happy images of my mother and father waiting for me remained alive, however impossible. The Christmas decorations on display looked a little cheesier to me than they had in my youth. Mounds of dirty snow were the only remainders of last week’s early snowstorm.  The cold air seemed colder than I’d remembered.  The winter coat I’d brought with me in defense of the cold warmed me, but felt heavy and oppressive.

I’d come to visit a dear relative who is being treated for a grave illness.  I was relieved to finally visit, but apprehensive too. Continue reading “Going Home!?”

What a Powerful Month!

our line up
our gang: L to R: Kate Weare, Larry Keigwin, Aszure Barton, Doug Varone, me, Mark Dendy, Brian Brooks, Doug Elkins

September ushered in a whirlwind month for me and what a month it’s been!
I’m still shaking the star dust out of my hair and enjoying the afterglow of what was for me, the perfect culminating 10th Anniversary residency for DANCEworks. It celebrated DANCEWork’s decade of devotion to adding to the creation of new modern/contemporary dance in the USA.

The smiles and good will generated by all the performances were powerful. It felt like a perfect antidote to the recent display of nastiness in our culture, that we’ve all become too familiar with. Ah, the power of art to bring people together. I experienced an elusive mystical moment of oneness, when the power of dance displayed the human condition so well, that audience and performers merged together in spirit.

ryan
Jason Cianciulli, representing Shannon Gillen, COLORVISION
William Brisco,representing Aszure Barton, Awáa
brian brooks
Brian Brooks, I’m Going to Explode

I realized in the process that a large part of the thrill of it all is about being able to share my passion for dance with others. I think that’s what moves he choreographers as well. While sitting in the audience, I feel very much in tune with them, yet somewhat apart. There’s an energy released at the conclusion of each performance,if the audience has been moved by what they’ve experienced, that is elevating. No other way to describe it. Fucking thrilling. The joy on the faces of the dancers at the conclusion of a satisfying performance is no less elevating. ” We’re in this together,” their smiles say to me. ” So thrilled you got it.”

elkins 2018
Doug Elkins dancers performing their new work, Kintsugi
Doug-Elkins_Press
Doug Elkins, 2018 Choreographer in Residence

You never can be sure during the planning stage of a big event that you’re getting the details right and that your instincts are correct.There are no guarantees in this world. I guess that’s part of the excitement. Unlike turning on the tv to watch something pre-recorded, you know you’re in an amphitheatre where anything can happen. There are no second takes or opportunities to do over. That is part of the excitement and what gives a successful live performance an added kick.

varone
Doug Varone, Nocturne
mark dendy
Mark Dendy, Rumsfeld, from Elvis Everywhere
keigwin
Larry Keigwin, Ballad #1
adam worst pies
Adam Barruch, The Worst Pies in London from Sweeney Todd
nicle diaz
Nicole Diaz, dancer for Kate Weare, Praise

As the choreographers began to arrive on performance week, I felt an enormous sense of gratitude for their commitment to travel hundreds and often thousands of miles to join our celebration. I said on stage that if I’d died then and there I would have died happy.

That was not an understatement, but it might have ruined the party.

 

 

  • photos by David Bazemore