Dancer

In the spring of 1984, when I was twenty years old and studying abroad in Grenoble, France, I was walking down a village street one afternoon when a simple sentence popped into my head with such clarity I knew it to be true: I AM A DANCER.

I was both pleased and perplexed. I knew that I found my greatest joy dancing, whether on stage, at a party, in the woods, or in my bedroom. But I had very little technique, no specific teachers, and no peers in the dance world. I did not consider myself a dancer. And I had no idea what to do with this… revelation.

I’ve spent years exploring — in dancing and in writing — what it means to me to dance. I have come to understand that this deep desire to dance is the source of everything I have to give.

In the 90s, I danced with several companies (Rae Dance, Sharron Rose, Patric LaCroix Haitian-American Dance Company); and studied modern and ballet with gifted teachers, including Marcus Schulkind, Sylvia Gold, and members of the Martha Graham School. Then I decided it was time to make my own dances.

In 2001, I created and performed a solo dance concert called Genesis. I was six months pregnant with my third child, Kyra. In the dance, I ask what it would mean to tell the story of a human from the perspective of a dancing, pregnant body. In these photos (taken by Jaye R Phillips) I was 18 weeks pregnant.

In 2004, I created and performed a second solo dance concert called On Fire in which I explored the ways in which writing is an embodied practice, while dancing is a form of knowledge. This dance featured quotations from Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, and Martha Graham. Here are some images from a performance I gave at Swarthmore College, as an artist-in-residence.

In 2005, I moved to a farm — so I could dance. Since being here I have discovered dance means so much more than I had imagined — to me and to the human species.

Since 2005, I have been dancing in theaters, cabaret rooms, churches, and on our land; I have danced in each one of our family shows, and had the pleasure of choreographing several musicals — including Little Women, Sound of Music, Once Upon a Mattress, Hello Dolly, and our own musical of 2017-8, Happy If Happy When.

In 2009, I performed an abbreviated version of Genesis with Leif, in utero.

In 2016, I created a concert of music and dance featuring song poems written for each chapter of my book Why We Dance.

Since April 2020 — and the pandemic lock down — I have been thrilled with the opportunity to take online classes in the Martha Graham technique, both at the Martha Graham School, and via Movement Migration, led by former Graham dancer Kim Jones. In these classes, I feel like I am returning to my roots, as well as branching out in new directions.

Here I am at the end of a private class with the exceptional Graham dancer and master teacher, Charlotte Landreau.

Stay tuned for more!