I was honored and humbled to show the solo Arthur Pita choreographed for me alongside such stellar artists, my fellow Fellows, the 2014 & 2015 McKnight Dance Fellowship awardees: Alana Morris, Brian Evans, Kaleena Miller, Kenna Cottman, and my Vermont-born comrade Max Wirsing. Here's a peak: https://vimeo.com/170067970
These solos can be tricky. If you're looking for some sort of cathartic, penultimate, autobiographical portrait of me, of what I have been, what I am capable of, my secret desires, my true self, DO NOT. You won't find that. What you will see is the work of a very disciplined, imaginative choreographer who is not swayed by virtuosity or trends. Arthur surprised me in that he is extremely friendly, though private and very strong. He knows who he is and I think because he is so secure, he is free to love and play as he likes. He is not snarky or mean, like so many choreographers. He showed immense compassion for some of the characters we looked at, whereas I, the judgemental coward, took my sweet time disengaging my ego from the material. I know so many previous solo performers who have been disenchanted or disappointed/ing. I was determined to have a good experience. Almost too determined.
Friendly and compassionate though he is, Arthur informed me Day One that he wasn't going to be giving me much approval, as I endeavored to please him. THIS became the important dance for me, getting past my tiresome need for outside feedback, managing my expectations, finding other, more sustainable sources of joy. I took the train to Waterloo station each day, walked past the "Remain" demonstrators, the amazing Ascot hats, the pubs filled with soccer fans and beer foam exploding, past the Tate Modern, along London's South Bank, to our lovely Jerwood Space where Arthur was set up, Pina Bausch-style at a table with various media. We played, improvised, dug deep, flew, looked, watched, researched. I was nursing a foot injury but took clases with Ballet Rambert from Deirdre Chapman (Minnesota-born), my host, recently retired from the Royal Ballet. On the last day of rehearsal, she and Diana Gonzalez, my friend of nearly 40 years who now lives in Paris and is a steward of the Agnes de Mille Trust, came to watch and support. Deirdre will be coaching me when she comes home to visit. Arthur, Diana, Deirdre and I - dance artists with hugely varying backgrounds, are nonetheless connected by a few degrees of separation: Nina Goldman, S.A.B., Broadway's "Phantom of the Opera" and Matthew Bourne's "Swan Lake" and a huge love of music and mindfulness.
With the Orlando massacre and a downpour of rain dampening my otherwise buoyant spirits, I Brexited London with this interesting solo: "a Sheila dance."