Emma Desjardins

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Because it was last piece, or because of what you were doing in it?
Both.

Balances really teach you how to calm down.
[ Laughs ] Yeah. And Nearly Ninety is a strange piece all-around because all of the sections are so small in terms of number of people, so everyone has huge sections of downtime, which take you out of the performing experience. Every entrance, I feel like I have to gear myself up for getting back onto the stage because there's so much time in between.

Obviously, you were dancing for him and rehearsing for him, and now you're not.
Yeah, exactly. I feel like when we're onstage we're all still dancing for him in a way, but we're not rehearsing for him. It's hard individually, and it's hard as a collective group to maintain that.

Do you all talk about it?
We talk about how rehearsals are hard. About how there's no inspiration to be doing things over and over that we've done so many times, but that's also what we do as dancers. Merce would always say, "Just do it." If there was some question and there was a discussion about what it was supposed to be, he would say, "Just do it." And if you had to do it again you'd do it again, but in the process of doing it you would solve the problem rather than talking. [ Laughs ]

He wasn't so into that.
Yeah. So in some ways, there's more of this drawn-out talking that happens in rehearsals because we don't really know what to do with ourselves without him.

Do you still get corrections from Robert Swinston?
Yeah.

What if he's in the dance?
If he's in the dance it's hard, because there's really no eye on it. Even with Merce, there was always a need for us to correct ourselves—not a need, but we had the opportunity to do that. If you saw something that wasn't working for you, you could always address it and correct yourself, and Merce would get involved and help with that process. So we still do that, and Robert gives us corrections as well, but it's hard when he's in the piece, and he's in quite a few of the pieces.

Do you agree with the decision to disband the company?
Actually I do. I think that no matter what happens—if the company were to continue or not—there's going to be a distillation. No matter what. Even if we were to continue forever. As a performer and dancer, I would rather end on a high note of knowing that I've done as much as I can and spent my time sharing Merce's work with as many people as possible over this specific time period, then have a break and see what happens next—to allow something new to come out of it. That has the potential for something really great to happen, more than if we just kept on plugging along. That's some of the concern about what's happening now: that in this licensing everything's gonna get a bit watered down and [the work is] going be done on ballet companies, and ballet companies don't know the technique and all this, but I think that's true either way. I mean if we were to keep going, eventually some of us would leave and some new dancers would come in, and they would never have studied with Merce. What's the difference, then, between that company and another company?

Only technique.
Right. Only technique. Which is a big thing, but I don't know. I just think it opens up more possibilities.

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