Along with teaching the duet, we left time for discussion. We felt that the dancers might be interested in hearing about our careers and perhaps had questions we could answer. However, that seed of doubt resurfaced again within me. How could my varied past within the dance community compare to Suzette’s illustrious performance centered career?
Well, let’s see. As I began thinking of the past, I realized that between the two of us we had amassed a staggering 90 years of professional dance experience — well over 100 if amateur training/teaching was added in. Even I was impressed with that number. We had only worked together for a little over one year of that time, so the variety of experiences was overwhelming.
I wrote down a list that began in 1971:
- professional dancers in four companies
- international touring
- co-founder of a professional dance company
- experience working with international choreographers
- teachers, mentors, choreographers
- teacher/director of professional training program
- founder/director of dance studio
- assistant to the choreographer for companies worldwide
- writer of dance related articles/book
Maybe we could answer a few questions.
In April, as part of Suzette’s residency, we presented a couple demonstrations for local seniors’ residences. The program involved a ‘warm-up’ demonstration, short history, introduction of the trio of pieces we now called Three Musical Reflections, a performance of the two solos (Suzette) and the duet, and a discussion to answer questions.
Suzette and I put aside time to create the 11-minute warm-up and were thrilled when Adam Bowman, the talented percussionist for studio classes, offered to make a sound track for us to use. The warm-up became a little dance of it’s own and we rehearsed it as we would a number. We also worked on the back-and-forth conversation that would become a 10-minute history of our dance experience and friendship.
Our first first seniors’ demonstration in the studio to ten seniors from nearby Norfolk Manor turned out to be worthy of all our preparations. The seniors were engaged throughout. Even when a roaring thunderstorm darkened the sky and rain pelted the windows they kept their attention riveted to our dancing and talking. Afterwards they asked some interesting questions while enjoying cookies and juice. Surprisingly there were more men than women in attendance and one gentleman said he was very moved by the dances and thanked us profusely for presenting them.
In response to questions, Suzette briefly explained the history of ‘modern’ dance from its roots with Martha Graham to David Earle’s current interpretation. It was not the type of dance they had expected to see and they had been pleasantly surprised. Several people asked us if we had ever heard of square dancing, the style of dance they were most familiar with. Their efforts to relate the experience to their own lives was touching and gratifying.
As with many of the workshops, rehearsals and demonstrations, Daniel Robinson videotaped portions that would be pieced into a documentary of Suzette’s festival residency (here’s the link to the finished video: https://vimeo.com/216382601).
It was an enjoyable and fulfilling hour and we looked forward to a similar presentation in May at The Village by the Arboretum’s assisted living building.