Sunday, January 18, 2009
My Favourite Dancer
I was asked recently about who it was that was my favourite dancer (or dance company) It's a very good question, actually - I've been heavily influenced by so many, when I think about it. I could say for example that it's Bill T. Jones. Bill T. Jones who is responsible for my favourite quote ('You have as much freedom as you are willing to take...') Bill T. Jones, who's work is heavily political (and I would argue, heavily with love) Bill I believe is in his 50's by now (yes, that absolutely divine physical specimen you see is classified in our society as an 'old man...') and if there's anyone who's shown a depth of courage in his life to get to the point of where he is as an artist, it's him. Sometimes I'll wonder about his choreography, and sometimes I'll be absolutely enchanted, but there is no disputing in my eyes that when it comes to choreographers, and dancers, he is one who has given me plenty of inspiration as I've grown as a dancer, and a man.
I could also say Noam Gagnon and Dana Gingras, who are the two that comprise the group Holy Body Tattoo. Their work is primal, and drips with violence and sexuality, where like La La La Human Steps, there's not necessarily a gender definition when it comes to their work - they blur the lines between masculine and feminine, so that there is a known equality between the two forces - they do not choreograph as a man and a woman, necessarily, but two bodies who are equally capable of doing anything the other can do, and I'm a fan of choreography that does blur those lines, where the woman can demonstrate the strength a man can, and where the man is not afraid of such a thing, but begs for it more (trust, there is not enough of work out there for my tastes which dares to do such a thing, and it makes for boring choreography when it comes to this particular country) Perhaps that's another story, but if these two come to your town, make it a point to see their work (or find yourself a copy of 'Poetry And Apocalypse' and you'll see for yourself)
I could speak of Grupo Corpo. Primal, physical, and so full of joy (they do not come to Toronto enough, but when they do, I am always there to see this wild company from Brazil) Every single aspect of their dance is full of joy, and colour, and sensuality, it's hard to not be enchanted with them (and it's quite difficult to take your eyes off of their movement, and you'll find that after two hours, you'll wonder where the time went, because they'll make you feel like you just experienced a moment (and you'll be absolutely craving for more, without a doubt)
Or we could go with my current fixation, and that being Fin Walker, who expands beyond the boundaries of Holy Body Tattoo (who also has choreographed mainstream hits like Equus) Fin who absolutely dares to dive into the human soul, and explore the violence and love within. I love this woman's work so very much, that if you asked me if I could let go of my solo work, and work with one choreographer on this planet, without a doubt
it would be her, because I know that even with my two bad knees, this
woman would find a way to bring out the absolute best in my body, and
dare and push me to my limits and beyond, and that at the end of the experience, I would be a better dancer, and a better man, and a better writer, and a better lover for it. I've seen her work live once, and the rest of the time it's been either press clippings, or sporadic clips online, and everything I've seen I've absolutely loved, and I hope that one day in my life, if I ever get to work with one individual on this planet, regardless of how old I am, I truly hope it's her.
These are a few of my favourite dancers, truly, and though the images are dynamic, they don't do justice to how truly wild and unique all their individual voices are. It's not to diminish those I've seen before - whether it is a La La La Human Steps, or companies in town like The Chimera Project or Toronto Dance Theatre, or anything you'll see in Tangente or Studio 303 in Montreal (Montreal who has people like a Sarah Williams or a Jose Navas) I don't single out four and say these are the absolutes - I use them as reference points for what is coming in there here and now - Holy Body Tattoo, who in their finest moments, are linear, with an understood physicality (and my show is heavy on the linear, especially when it comes to the physical) Bill T. Jones, who incorporates a lot of narrative text in his work, and blurs the line between performer and audience (a dancing monologue, which is again, the nature of my show) Or Grupo Corpo, who's joy of just being on a stage and moving, is infectous (and a reminder that no matter the nature of the physical, this is still dance, and we are dancers, regardless of the nature of the choreography (meaning we best have fun doing what we do, and my show is definitely going to be fun to perform) And Fin Walker, who explores desire, and the nature of human interaction, and delivers wild, sensual work (and trust, I know that when I hit that level, this show will definitely qualify as wild, and sensual)
But if you ask me again, who it is, that is my favourite dancer, I will simply point you to the photograph below.
This is my favourite dancer in the planet. And though I will never be able to train her properly in something I think she would have loved, or create her a solo (or even a duet) I will say without a doubt, that in the here and now, when it comes to influences upon my work, I can only speak to what she did do for my soul (something I am quite thankful for) And though I am now entering the stage of genuine anger as to why something in friendship fell apart (Truly, I still haven't been given a reason, and I doubt I will hear one) I can't deny the influence, and in a time where I keep hearing in the news about 'speaking to the better angels within us,' etc. I'm going to try to not be angry at not knowing, or having no idea why, and just stick with the influence, and appreciate it, and then like any art, take what you're influenced by, and build upon it. That girl, no matter the circumstance, I think would wish me to do so - to be better than I've been, and to push my choreography, and my voice, and my daring, beyond what it has been.
It's interesting that as I enter a new phase in my life, where I have all the resources in the world to achieve what I wish to (I have enough, trust) and in a time where my body has become far wilder, and healthier, than it has ever been - that on the cusp of greatness (and trust, I see it on the horizon) she is no longer there. I miss her, and I miss that influence, and I miss that laughter, but in a couple of weeks I'm going to be singing to the masses, and though she's not part of it in the immediate, I'd rather not be bitter, or sad, but just love what she did for me, and love how much I grew as a person, and an artist. I'd rather take that energy, and pour it into myself, or into sarahjane, or any of my other collaborators.
I only regret that she's unrealized potential. But I have faith in her. I believe in that girl, and I'll know she'll find her way. And it's a crazy world - though I could be fatalistic and say our paths will never cross, I get this odd feeling that one day, I'm going to turn a corner, and she'll be there, laughing, and happy.
Until then, we'll keep moving, forward.
(Three weeks until opening day...)