It is so obvious to me that my late start in dance, and my love of literature (and words and syntax) are connected to the process and the product of my choreography. My passion for creating dance is constructivist; it is the same passion that some people have for building cabinets. I am inspired by exploring concepts, creating images and then manipulating movements and phrases to build a work of art. I construct dances similarly to the way I would write a story, poem or (even more so) a research paper. This is likely because, of all of the arts, literature moves me the most deeply, allows me to enter into it the most fully, and seemingly would be the ideal direction for me to go in my own expressive endeavors. Words are like magic to me. However, I dance instead of writing. Why? I’m not sure; myriad reasons, but most likely: I dance because it feels good and right. My body wants to move, and I love to create patterns of moving bodies in space—to see bodies move. It turns out that the challenge of expressing myself through dance is somehow more do-able than the challenge of living up to all these great novels and poems I’ve read. The novelty of dance keeps me intrigued and adventurous. I don’t feel bogged down by rules, and (perhaps in my naïveté) I act out of a sense of joy.
My body “thinks” differently than a highly trained dancer’s body. I create movement that other dancers might not because my most ingrained habits as a mover do not come from the barre. Unlike most of the dancer\choreographers I’ve met, my dances are conceived outside the studio with a long process of research, writing and diagramming before I even begin to move. In addition, much of my choreography is directly influenced by literature. I have choreographed narrative and non-narrative pieces inspired by favorite stories and novels and have even danced with my favorite books on stage with me as props.
While there are too many writers whom I admire to fit in the allotted space here, there are fewer choreographers who really make a strong impression. The world of “art” dance is relatively new (although dancing has been a part of human life since before written language), and perhaps that is why there does not seem to be a rigorous and theory-based aesthetic like there is in other arts. Of the few choreographers who really move me, I am impressed and inspired by the work of Bill T. Jones, because his layers of complexity, meaning and imagery allow audiences to enter his pieces from wherever they are. I feel a strong connection and affiliation with the work of Miguel Gutierrez and Candice Salyers, two very different choreographers who respect and illustrate the humanity of performers and thus of all of us. These choreographers allow and encourage vulnerability and interpersonal connection to take place on the stage. I’m interested in that exploration and believe that it may be the next change in dance. It is the opposite of what is happening in “contemporary” dance, which is an ever-increasing level of technicality with an ever-decreasing level of craft and meaning.