“Dancers are the messengers of the gods.” -Martha Graham
Martha Graham is someone I deeply admired while growing up – not only for her incredible technique, but for what she accomplished as a woman. She was a trail blazer. I had studied the Martha Graham technique in college. When I watch her dancers, I know how difficult each move is and I appreciate the power it radiates.
I jumped at the opportunity when I was asked to create a piece for her troupe. With her dancers, I would be able to combine her technique and my ideas to create something unique.
Martha famously compared a dancer to a tightrope walker. As an artist, many times I feel the fear of walking on a tightrope. Music is what helps me keep my balance and there is no greater music in my creative life than Gershwin.
The joining of Gershwin and Graham is ideal. They both have universal allure. Gershwin music transcends all borders. The Graham technique is recognized worldwide as having a major influence on modern dance. To combine the two seems mythical and fanciful at the same time.
But Not for Me takes place in a dream state. Dreaming gives me an opportunity to explore a whole gamut of emotions. When we dream, we open ourselves up to self-discovery and ultimately self-enrichment: so here, the dance becomes a visual approach to dream interpretation.
As the piece begins, we meet each dancer individually. When they awaken, they imagine someone has been asleep next to them. When they realize they are alone, they lie down and experience a wakeful rest. They dance variety of emotions that embrace romantic images of joy and sadness, longing and desire, loss and regret – all emotions related to the plight of loneliness and the missed opportunity to connect.
Glen Kelly’s magnificent arrangement of But Not for Me supports every movement that is executed, amplifying the emotion of the choreography. Together, Glen and I created clusters of dream images musically and choreographically – missing someone, passion, exasperation, rapture, heartache.
The Graham dancers were very open to the idea of a new choreographer – I think because I tapped into their powerful technique and it felt comfortable in their bodies even though the motivations were new.
I found the Company to be inspirational. Crafting this piece gave me an opportunity to create something special and to happily spend time with a room full of passionate performers. I would have never imagined doing something with them, but I have always dreamed of finding that fearlessness to create something different. Working with the Graham Company on But Not for Me was literally beyond dance dreams realized.
As Martha Graham said: “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.”
And as Gershwin said: “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”
And as I say: “Dream dancing represents life in its most graceful form – add Gershwin and Graham to that and it’s a dream worth keeping.”