Proud Papa


I cannot tell you how to watch this dance.


 …audacious, sassy dancers…

I’m reading a book called Ideas that Stick.  It says that for you to remember something I tell you, I need to follow 6 principles whose acronym spells SUCCES.  I’m not kidding.  Then the idea will live inside of you like that story about waking up from a bender in a tub of ice with your kidney stolen.  Or like the story about razor blades inside apples which stuck around despite the fact that it has never happened.  And weirdly, this one: that movie popcorn has as much fat as 5 disgusting, greasy, steak and soda filled meals.  I don’t remember hearing that story but I also don’t recall having to be told that food you buy in a mall or movie theater isn’t exactly good for you.

The S stands for Simple, I think one of the C’s stand for Core or Condensed or Concise, and I’m pretty sure E stands for Emotional.  I forget the rest.

I really do want to learn something from this book though because I’m the communications guy at Headlong and I have a bit of a problem with things that are complex abstract.  Problem being, I kind of like things complex and abstract!   I mean, if I were comfortable with the literal I would have known what to say to my parents when I was nineteen years old and they picked me up when I phoned them from a truck stop after I dropped out of college without telling them.  I was broke and cold, having just been robbed by another hitchhiker who I was sharing the back of a flatbed truck with as we cruised up interstate 95 in what seemed like, at 65 miles an hour in the rain, a very cold March. Instead of speaking sensibly to my parents, apologizing or explaining even a little bit, I just stared at them saying nothing, daring them to be mad enough to leave me there.

I’m thinking a lot about my parents right now, not just because we’re smack dab between mother’s and father’s day, but because sometime in the next month I am about to become a father–apparently to a daughter!  I am deeply blessed because, as the last of us Headlong directors (and so many of our dancers!) to have children, I already know that Headlong as a community is the best place in the world to raise children.  It’s the kind of community I wish my parents could have had when dealing with their unruly son.  I couldn’t feel more lucky, or grateful for Headlong and all the love and support we have as artists, as parents and people.

Okay, so that blinking picture up top was a bit of a cheat to get you to read on which you might not have done.  But if you have or are skipping ahead, then I am now ready to get to the point:


…proud papa with dancers after we performed at NCDC benefit…

In this picture and the one up top are the Headlong dancers from I cannot tell you how to watch this.  A new Headlong ensemble! I feel like a proud Papa! (That’s the theme here in case I’ve buried that in my digressing and convoluted way).  Most of these audacious, lovely dancers came through the Headlong Performance Institute, a cutting edge training ground and think tank we’ve been nurturing for going on 4 years.  These artists, like 40 other alums of the program, aretalented and sharp and many of them are making their homes in our fair city to become the creating artists, thinkers, and consicentious citizens of our future.  Okay, so its true that the irrepressible veteran Lorin Lyle is slyly standing among the youth.  If you recognized him its because you’re a veteran too and you can feel mama- or papa-proud, along with me, of these new young turks.You may be interested in coming to see I cannot tell you how to watch this, which premiers this weekend.   It shares something with early Headlong dances– it has talking, dancing, pop songs, sass and sincerity all wrapped up together.  If you want to read even more about this piece you can go to the seriously geeked out section at the end of this letter.This dance and much more will be part of the Sam-Gam BAM! concert at the Mandell Theater  June 17-25th at 7:30.  That’s a weird time so I am going to say it again.  Most of the shows start at 7:30pm.  There is one Sunday matinee that starts at the very reasonable time of 2:00pm.

Amy  Video
Get the hand on top, Amy!

Also in Sam-Gam BAM! is Amy dancing a punk rock Bharatanatyam solo that she created with Viji Rao. By nature Amy is a hard worker, but I have NEVER seen Amy rehearse so hard or so long on any dance before. She’s rehearsing in the studio when I get to Headlong in the morning. She runs through counting sequences when there’s a lull in admin meetings. And in the middle of other rehearsals when we’re taking water breaks she runs into the small studio and rehearses A Presentation of Items some more. I swear she’s possessed. She says this is the most difficult work she has ever done. Come see it!

Did I mention that I am going to be a father very soon?  Maiko is huge and life is very, very good. Thank you everyone who makes Headlong possible!



Maiko Belly

…like reading a dance, a pregnant belly presents clues to a hidden world.

GEEK OUT SECTION following the already impossibly long newsletter:  DON’T READ ANY FURTHER.  I haven’t finished theSticky Idea book so the following is, well, probably pretty slippery. …notes on I cannot tell you how to watch this. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we pay attention inside of a dance and in watching a dance.  What is the relationship between experiencing something and observing it at a distance?  I am curious about the different ways we record, map and experience an event, both as it is happening and afterwards.  My own mind jumps around like a grasshopper as I try to understand the secret world hidden beneath the surface clues of something I am seeing for the first time.

A corollary question concerns the profound unruliness and complexity of the human body.  Does the messiness of human presence need to be eliminated in order to create something legible?  Some choreography attempts to pare the dancing body down to a codified vocabulary, a set of positions that can be reiterated in variations and ingeniously reassembled, highlighting craft and virtuosity.  But I love unruly bodies as they are, with their complicated presences.

I love choreography because of how it can diagram the complexity of experience, containing contradiction and difference within the same instant.  I sometimes imagine choreography as a Joycean novel compacted into a few moments:  it would take hours to read a description of everything happening on all the different levels of movement, feeling, image and thought.  But in a dance so much can happen all at once.  We can see, hear and feel the intricate pattern of something very intensely and very quickly.  Yes, the moments disappear as fast as new ones appear, but a moment can be thick with information that resonates beyond itself.  What is the relationship between density and contemplation?  I do believe that the more attention we try to pay to things, the more there is to actually see.  I’ve approached the choreography of I cannot tell you how to watch thiswith this in mind.

Oh, there is one simple thing about this piece:  in this dance someone is always getting left behind.