Fri Dec 16 2011
What was going on at the time?
I had been an understudy for more than two years at that point. I knew that Merce really liked working with me, and it was hard. I was having a hard time and was wondering if I should stick around anymore. Was anybody ever going to leave? How long does [Merce] have? I wanted it so badly. Then there was all this...Cunningham is great for poor communication. Just the entire building. [ Laughs ] So there were rumors: We might hire someone. We might hire two people. We don't know who we're going to hire. Ah! We want to know how to move forward! Finally, I got a call one evening from Robert—in the Robert way [ Gruffly ]: "Hullo, yeah, you're going to be in the company."
You knew that they had been fired?
We knew that because there had been a whole blowup at the studio. We would speculate a lot, but we knew everyone was really upset, and there were a lot of negotiations going on. It was really frustrating.
And so weird, I'm sure.
Yeah. And then we would go in the studio and work with Merce and it was like, This is weird, too. [ Laughs ]
Did Holley Farmer teach you her roles?
No, she didn't. I learned a few things. They were away on tour, and Robert had told all the understudies to start looking at Split Sides and to learn some parts. And we had started understudying things a bit more. I learned all of Holley's parts in Ocean . And there were maybe a few other pieces. With Split Sides as well, Dylan and I learned the duet. And Krista and John worked on other sections. So we learned the duet by ourselves basically. Once we knew we got hired, I think that was one of the only things she worked with me a little bit.
Was it cool? Was it okay?
It was okay. I don't think she had a problem with me. She was always very nice to me. Encouraging. It was just the situation. But it was also frustrating not to have her around to work on a few other pieces. It would have been nice to spend a little more time with her before she left.
What were your first dances as a company member?
It was Split Sides and Sounddance .
I love Sounddance.
It's my absolute favorite thing to do. It's such a rush. And it's everything I love about dancing. It's flying around and moving fast and moving big and exerting myself to the fullest. I could be dog-tired and still do Sounddance . It's that exciting. I wasn't even supposed to perform it, actually. That was during my first tour, and Julie was out and that was going to be her part, or had been. The company was off, but we were working, so Robert and Merce had me learn it. I still remember going back and looking at the 1974 video from Berkeley. After I had learned it, I remember thinking, Oh I get it. They were so wild and so sensual and so otherworldly in it. I remember going back in to show Merce after I had looked at that and worked on it myself and he said, "That's it. That's the right energy."
Sometimes I think it should be more demented, but it's a fine line.
Yeah. It is a fine line, and that's one of the things I've learned. For my first eight months of tourin,g it was hard to let myself find the freedom that I had had as RUG in the work. As a RUG, we had very few performances. You were just in the studio having a ball and really going for everything. And then when you got onstage, it was so scary and different. All of a sudden, things that were so easy were really challenging again. It took me a long time to learn how to keep going.
Was it because you were onstage, you were suddenly representing this institution, too?
Just everything about it. The lights and the nerves. I think I still carry some of that complex. I didn't feel like I was good enough for a long time. So I felt really insecure.