I'm sitting surrounded by mountains of video tape. I've been busy putting together video clips for a symposium on my work in San Francisco this spring. Viewing almost 20 years of my work and trying to put this into some recognizable perspective has been a rather strange undertaking. I find myself humorously asking all those "reporter questions" that I've been dodging for years. Especially the one about the chicken and the egg - "When you are choreographing, which comes first, the music or the idea?"
After a week of viewing tapes, it seems apparent to me that what comes first and foremost, are the dancers. I don't mean this in the obvious way; dancers are, of course, natural collaborators within the studio process. But before I even listen to music or play with ideas, they are in my mind's eye - the center of every process. They are there at the early beginnings, the small moments of truth that you never witness, the creative moments that take place in the quiet of my brain. Their spirit and knowing frees my imagination. If you've watched our work evolve over the course of these many years, you've seen the wonderful dancers that have graced my dances give life and breath to this vision.
We are about to prepare for our 20th-Anniversary year (our first performance was at PS 122 on September 12, 1986, maybe some of you were there?), so if I seem reflective in mood, please indulge me. While much has happened for us in the past 19 years, the greatest reward has been the opportunity to continually create and perform. These past few months alone have been particularly exciting as I've been able to experiment with the melding of art forms - dance, opera and theater - in some new and unexpected ways. Directing and choreographing both the Lincoln Center production of Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus and Euridice and the Aquila Theater Company production of The Invisible Man allowed me to push artistic boundaries, and in doing so I found whole new worlds of ideas to play in.
The ideas generated by these two works are already serving as the jumping-off point for our next two projects. In December, we head back into the studio to begin a new repertory work, which is being commissioned by the American Dance Festival and will premiere in Durham, NC the first week of July 2006. After spending almost a year developing larger projects, I am very eager to return to the pure form of dancemaking that has compelled me for almost a quarter of a century. No music or ideas yet to inspire me, only the thoughts of dancers in space, revealing something.
This spring we will continue our work on a new evening length dance/opera based on the writings of Lewis Thomas. The production will have its New York premiere at The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in the spring of 2007. We have built a substantial amount of material for this work - ranging from the highly physical to new departures in gestural storytelling. I'm working closely with composer Nathan Larson now to map the musical scenario/libretto for the work.
Our touring this winter and spring will take us throughout the U.S. (we'll be heading to San Francisco for the first time in 19 years, and I can't wait!) For five-weeks we will give up our vagabond life and take up residence in Minneapolis where I'll be directing and choreographing the American premiere of Laurent Petitgirard's Joseph Merrick: The Elephant Man - a production for Minnesota Opera that will feature the Company.
Your encouragement over the years has fueled our work. As my Company approaches a new decade of dancemaking, I hope you will continue to join me on our new artistic adventures.
As we look forward to our 20th year of creating, it becomes clearer to me everyday why it is important for me to remain vital as a dance maker. This is a great reflective art form - the depth of its power, both subtle and enormous can be so very revealing. I hope my dances have conveyed some of this to you.
All my best for a great and safe New Year,