It’s a Thursday evening and Post:Ballet‘s Robert Dekkers in is five places at once. He’s in discussion with his lighting designer, conferring with dancers, and bringing me up to speed about some of the collaborators he’s working with this season. He cues the music with his phone and the dancers run through DoBe:Family Sing-a-Long and Game Night, Dekkers’ newest work, (due to premier at the end of July), bodies playing off each other in a tangle. There’s humor, exaggerated facial expressions, even partnering role reversal, with the women doing the heavy lifting.The choreography includes elements of games like charades and red light/green light set to a score that revisits singing and nursery rhymes. Read More
Dance rehearsals for Terpsichore D’Amour are still happening in our friendly, neighborhood park, at least for the immediate future (weather permitting). We run through our piece once, twice, three times with a rotating cast of overenthusiastic ball-fetching dogs, vigilant moms and goggle-eyed toddlers who line up at the fence, watching every move. I can’t help feeling like there’s something important happening here; we are making dance public, more accessible, more tangible and meaningful, bringing it to people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to be exposed.
Having direct contact with an audience is a completely foreign concept for me. During the many years I danced as a professional ballerina I never once had the opportunity to look at my audience. They always remained one step removed, a sea of heads in the darkness. It’s far more intimate to have eye contact, to witness the look on a person’s face. I can’t say I’m completely comfortable with it, but I’m getting more and more opportunities to settle into the new paradigm.
I’ve had a lot of moms ask what we are up to, and the feedback has all been positive. We’ve both enjoyed our park rehearsals enough to begin planning a performance circuit at other parks throughout the county.
I like to think that we are leading by example. When we are out there doing what we do, we are sending a message: this is what 40-something can look like… we are moms and we are also creative people… artistic expression has value. By creating this troupe we have given ourselves (and anyone who watches a rehearsal or show) free artistic license to be creative, no holds barred.
It’s a reminder that life is full of complexities and layers of being. It is energizing to be a part of something that brings joy to ourselves and others. This aspect of my being feeds my soul so I have more to offer the rest of the areas of my life. If dogs and toddlers are interested, all the better.
Dancing with the stars is a great description for the dance rehearsals for Terpsichore D’Amour. Most of the time we practice outside since our upcoming performance in September is going to be outside. It makes perfect sense, after all, since we need to be comfortable dancing on the same sort of terrain that we will use for performances. We have had a few rehearsals in a traditional studio, but dance studio space comes at a premium and when you rent by the hour it’s not always easy to get the space when you need it. And really, it’s kind of nice to dance in a natural setting for a change, looking at nothing but trees, grass and blue sky (and easy on the wallet).
I live close enough to our rehearsal space in the park that I usually walk. I’d much rather walk than drive whenever possible. I could get used to this, was my thought as I walked over for rehearsal the other day. It’s pretty cool to dance under the big blue sky, nothing but you and the clouds and stars overhead. It’s free, heck it’s freeing. Honestly, I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing and admiring our ingenuity for thinking of it in the first place.
Until I got to the spot where we usually rehearse and was confronted with:
Getting a dance performance off the ground, especially with a brand new dance company that you’ve made up from scratch, requires a certain degree of flexibility and the ability to think quickly on your feet. Then again, so does parenthood, so I’ve had a fair amount of practice in on-the-spot decision making over the past eight years since I became a mom.
What did I do? I did nothing.
Okay, that’s not exactly true. I laughed about it. Then I stretched and waited for my dance partner to show up.
It all worked out, of course. We just shifted down into a different (much busier) area of the park. We performed to an audience of energetic toddlers and the caregivers and hyperactive dogs against the l whining of chainsaws and grinding of heavy machinery.
I figure it was the perfect preparation for the real thing.