Fri Dec 16 2011
So you weren't a part of going to Merce's apartment to say goodbye to him? Or were you?
Well I did go to his apartment, but that was another thing. We went in groups of four and just the way it happened, I didn't get to go with any of the dancers; I went with the production members who I didn't really know at that time. I was with kind of these strangers to say goodbye. So that changed what that experience was. So that was another kind of sad point to deal with.
Where was your first performance as a company member?
We did a six-week European tour and it was Charleroi, Belgium. We did Square Game and Split Sides . Square Game was the first piece. I remember looking at the bags. I touched one because I wanted to remember the moment.
Was it everything you wanted or hoped for to be in the company? Or had too much time passed?
It was pretty cool. [ Laughs ] It was great. It was a six-week tour, and I had never been out of the country so that was the first time. It was all this new stuff and having gotten that thing that I had wanted for so long and getting to do all this performing that we didn't get to do as RUGs—seeing Europe, having some more money to be able to spend on things. Lots of big changes and it was just awesome.
How did you adjust to performing so often?
I didn't have a big problem with it. I'm kind of an oddball. I was talking to some other of the dancers about getting nervous before shows. I don't really get that nervous. Unless it's a premiere or someone is in the audience that I really care about—his opinion somehow matters to me, then I'll get a little more hyped up. But in general, I just go to the theater and do it. There's a heightened energy and your focus clarifies and there's a little bit of adrenaline to help you in a good way, but it's generally a positive experience for me. How rare a job to get to perform so often in modern dance? It's what all of us want to do. Now after two years, I'm starting to see how the older company members feel about being tired of it and how being on tour is hard and stressful. That's starting to affect me a little more. Sometimes you don't feel so much like dancing and you'd rather have a day off. Whereas before, having started in college, I had so much enthusiasm because it was so new, and up until pretty recently, that has carried through. As for taking a day off—who would want to do that? Why? But no, oh no. A day off is needed and good. [ Laughs ]
How long have you been dancing?
I'm 28. I guess since I was 18. I took my first tap dancing class in college, at the recreation center of Urbana with 40-year-old women. [ Laughs ] It wasn't a college class. It was at a recreation center and it was way far away from my dorm. I had to take buses to get there. It was on Saturday mornings.
Wow. You wanted to dance. During this Legacy Tour, what has stood out to you?
Travel is definitely one of the biggest perks of the job. Doing the work, too, but we've been to pretty amazing places: London, Paris, Geneva, Barcelona, Rome, Jerusalem, Moscow, Hong Kong, Mexico City. Those are significant life experiences. Some are more special than others. It seems like if we go to a city and we have a good time together as people, the tour sticks out as being really special. Santiago de Compostela, Spain sticks out as one of those. We had a great day going to a beach. We rented a car, we found this beach, it was kind of isolated and unlike any beach I'd ever been to before. There was a river sort of carved and a big rock you could climb out on the coast and it was our old RUG group—the four of us—that went. That was a great day. I liked experiencing Hong Kong. Paris is always amazing, of course. And then I'd say dancewise, my best role probably would be in Square Game . I get to do Merce's part.
Who taught you that part?
We learned it off video, I believe. We did a workshop when we were RUGs and then Robert reconstructed it with the company. There are a couple of solos and a duet. And they're kind of quirky or not—they aren't just regular rhythms and shapes that you can write down on paper easily. You have to study the video and mimic to get something in your body and then figure out what your interpretation of it is. That freedom and ambiguity makes it so valuable and so different from a lot of the other work where this is the rhythm and you could write down what the sequence of shapes are. A lot of the work is carefully defined, but this solo and duet are different. You have more play, more freedom; it is not super clear what he was doing because of the two videos that exist, there are obvious differences so the task of deciding for yourself what it is you do is a little different. And a Merce role is, in and of itself, special.
Do you know what you're going to do after this?
Well, I kind of do. I'm interested in Paul Taylor, but I'm not sure what to do about that because you never know what Taylor's attitude is toward Cunningham. They're kind of at odds in some ways. A lot of people are very strongly for one and not the other.
I love both so you're talking to the right person.
I doubt I'll get a job of any kind immediately. So having off time in January really appeals to me. Time to do whatever—I'm interested in acting and comedy and writing. I've done a bit of that in New York. When I was a RUG, I was able to take classes. I'm curious just how interested I am in those things, so I'd like to take more classes. I have all of these ideas I'd like to sink my teeth into and explore, but momentum seems important. Whenever I work on it now, I feel like I make progress and then something distracts me and that's disheartening. So I want time to explore other art forms.
Do you find the styles of Cunningham and Taylor so different?
I think they're similar in relation to Graham. They both came from Graham and that era. There's the use of the back that's somewhat similar—and different—in small ways, but pretty similar. It's different stylistically, but the principals of movement are similar. Then, Taylor has these additional things he puts in: the acting, the characters, the comedy.