Emma Desjardins



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But I loved watching it. I just always wanted to see it.
It's a great piece of history. Yeah, it's a great piece of history.

And I feel like I saw it. I don't feel like I saw some weird watered-down version.
No! I feel like it's really come to life on us in a way that allows you to appreciate the history, but it's also in the present. At the same time it still feels like history a little bit—as a dancer. But it's a great piece to have in the sort of collective of pieces that are going to be sent into the world. Now it's been reconstructed. It's all set to go.

What reconstructions have you worked on that you liked?
I really liked doing Roaratorio . It's a hard dance. It's sort of like a jigging marathon, and when you perform it, it's hard on the lower legs, unlike any other piece that I do. And it's also really hard to do it over and over again because it's really all about the rhythm, and if you don't make the rhythms really clear, it gets all mushy. But it's really easy in rehearsal to just go through the steps because they're not as technically hard as [what] we think of as typical Merce steps; we're used to doing these full-body twists and turns and everything all at once that is really technically hard. This is simple, basic jigging—so it's easy to get too relaxed about it, but you really have to stay on top of the rhythms and make it really clear. That's kind of fun for me—to work that way a little bit—and it's comic. It's a fun piece to perform. It involves everybody so much, and in a way that a lot of pieces we've reconstructed don't. Everybody gets quite a bit to do in the piece, but also there's a lot of group sections where everybody's onstage together, and I really like performing like that. I feel like CRWDSPCR was similar for me—there's so much time where you are standing onstage holding a pose and you get to watch someone else do something Then you do something and then you get to watch someone else. I also really liked the reconstruction process of bringing Roaratorio back. Trisha Lent came and reconstructed that for us, and it was just nice to work with her.

She's someone that really everyone just loves to work with. Why?
Yeah. I don't know. After she left the company, she was a kindergarten teacher, so sometimes that kindergarten teacher comes out a little bit, which can be good and bad, because she's just very clear. "This is what it is and repeat it over again." I think that's great for setting a piece like Roaratorio because you've got these rhythms, and you have to be really clear about what they are, so that eliminates questions. If she gives it to you very directly, it eliminates anyone saying, "Well, I'm not sure about that; I'm going to go look at the tape and see what so-and-so did." You just take it for what it is. She's just fun. For me, at least with Roaratorio , she was honest about the fact that not every video version is exactly the same and not all the notes match up with the video versions, so here's the information I've collected, and you can choose what you want to do. That's always the struggle with any reconstruction: It's a live art. It's not always the same every time. And then also, as it lives over the years, changes are made because of the dancers and also Merce. It all shifts and evolves, and I think to be honest about that and to allow the new reconstruction to also be part of that evolution is nice.

What is the hardest and the easiest part of being in the company now?
That's a hard question. I think the hardest part right now is rehearsal. We're so well rehearsed for everything. We're so prepared; everything has been set. In rehearsals there's really nothing more to learn. It's just doing it to do it, so you don't forget it so that it stays fresh. And that's a little less than exciting to do. So whether the rehearsals are on tour or at the studio, I think it's just a little hard for everyone to stay really inspired. But I think that the performances are the exact opposite of that because you really realize that each one is close to the last one and that each moment is precious when you're onstage, so it's a really interesting balance. And also I think that the touring is just hard because in the last six months it's been one thing after the next after the next. It's hard to be away for so long and be in hotel after hotel after hotel. That's just the day-to-day grind.

Are you excited it's almost over?
Yes and no. It's sad that it's ending. We're starting to think about being really present to the lasts now. Everything we do is, This is the second to last, this is the last. So we're really trying to be present for everything that's happening and not taking anything for granted, but I feel like the sad part was really right after Merce died. We all, in our own way, worked through that sadness. And now, while it's sad to see the end of such a great company, it's been set out in front of us for so long that it's not—for me at least—shockingly sad, it's just something we have to deal with. And it's also a little bit exciting to think about all the possibilities. And totally scary. [ Laughs ] Not just for us personally, but for where the work is going to go. What's gonna happen next? I feel like it's really open for anything, and it will be exciting to see.

I hope it is.
Yeah, I hope so too. It could just crash and burn. I think that they're so well set up to continue licensing—that's already happening. And there are so many former dancers in the company who are excited about licensing. I think anyone whose had an experience with Merce has valuable information in that process, and the 14 of us have a pretty unique time frame in which we worked with Merce, so I'm hoping that eventually that will be something we can share in whatever happens next.

Will you be staging?
I don't have any plans to. I'm not sure that I actually want to stage work. I'm more interested in perpetuating the technique because it was so important to me, and I think it's the basis of the work. If the work is going to continue anywhere, even if it's spread out in multiple companies, there needs to be a base of dancers that are trained in the technique. So I'm not so interested in staging—and right now they're just sort of feeling out exactly how that's all going to work out. Trisha's in charge of licensing, and there are so many people who already do licensing now who are also going to be continuing to do licensing, so they're experienced and good at it.

But you think you'll continue to teach?
I hope so. I would like to. It's unclear how it's all going to play out now. I was hoping to teach at Barnard next semester, but that is not working out.

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