Jet-Setting And A Little Nostalgia

Just when it seems like things are slowing down, they speed up again. The slow economy has meant less touring and therefore less travel for Headlong. I’m not complaining, really I’m not – Headlong has taken me to Japan, Spain, Portugal, New York, Portland, Nebraska, and other interesting places. But in recent years we’ve been more locally focused with our teaching and performing, which is nice because I get to hang out in my awesome dome home.DomeBut in the last couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of traveling from quiet rural Maine, to Los Angeles, and home again. Quite a contrast!

Maine.

We’ve been working with a group of five faculty members from Bates and Colby Colleges. The group includes a wide range of ages and kinds of experience: three women with dance backgrounds, a young male actor/director, and even an older male lighting and set designer who has never performed. They wrote a grant to bring Headlong up to create a piece using them as performer/collaborators.

Maine1
Rachel Boggia, Todd Coulter, Annie Kloppenberg.

Why? To explore the intersections of “Dance” and “Theater”, which are highly delineated (even segregated) in most academic settings, but not so much in Headlong’s working process. Also, to engage with each other in a very intense collaborative artistic process, which is a beautiful way to get to know other people as people and as artists. And finally,learn some of our creation and teaching methods that might be useful to them in their own teaching.

Maine3
Process notes.

Other than single-digit temperatures and the kind of ethnic food you can only find in Maine (why do we even try?), the trip was great. Hunkering down, artistically satisfying, a lovely group of performers, and what could be better than drinking a bourbon with Mark Lord at midnight, planning tomorrow’s rehearsal?

east coast > west coast.

From there, I jetted off to LA like a jet-setter. I got to see the Grand Canyon from my window on the plane. I caught up on some scholarly reading, knowing I would soon see Susan Foster, who was my Dance Composition teacher and mentor, and is an all-around genius. In her new book Choreographing Empathyshe writes about our piece CELL in a way that gave me chills. Obviously I love performing for people, and CELL was one of my most favorite performing experiences. But reading Susan’s intelligent words, putting our research into a cultural context, made me just as happy and proud as any performing experience I can remember.

Plus, when Susan was visiting Philly in September, she got to see Red Rovers, and later over coffee, I was so touched to learn what she saw in it. What could be better than hearing your revered teacher from the past respect and understand your current experiments?

Rovers
Red Rovers finale, taken by an audience member’s cell phone.


LA.

Once I got to LA, it was a whirlwind of work and play. I got to spend time with my dear friend Doran George, who was at the Center for New Dance Development in Holland with Andrew and I in the early 90’s.

Doran
Don’t ask about the blanket, OK?

He’s now a PhD candidate at UCLA, where faculty members include the aforementioned Susan Foster, Lionel Popkin, and Janet O’Shea, who studied Bharata Natyam with me at Wesleyan and is now a well-regarded scholar of that form.

Janet O'Shea

At UCLA I taught a bunch of workshops, shared news “from the field” with the faculty and the MFA students, and even had a 17-person site-specific dance made just for me.  Many of the undergrads are studio dancers whose ambitions seem to be dancing in music videos.  But they were surprisingly interested to work on Richard Bull improvisation structures, make “quick-and-dirty” dances, and hear about some of my “Life of the Artist” teachings.

While there, I got to go to LACMA with Miguel Gutierrez, who happened to be in town. We’ve known each other since my blonde days, too, and we still make each other laugh and laugh. (There might even be a super-secret collaboration brewing…shh!) And really, what could be better than laughing with an artist friend inside a massive Richard Serra sculpture?

Miguel

with love,

Amy (home safe and sound)

Amy & Miguel