I just finished reading “The Golden Compass” - a wonderful book for young adults, with lots of big words and some very familiar themes: the realization of one’s unique place in the world; the struggle for self-determination in a fatalistic universe; and how growing up means trading in one set of values, ideas, and delusions, for another. I really liked it! I read it in three days flat, which indicates to me both how easy it was to consume and how hungry I was for it. You see, “The Golden Compass” absolutely transfixed my imagination, my sense of time and adventure, even reignited a creative fire that began to burn two months ago. I’m writing now to update the world on my creative happenings, and one fire in particular.
Several months ago, I went to New York for a friend’s birthday. She told me about a production she’d recently seen at the New York City Opera, a show called ”Monodramas”. After a marvelous review of it, one particular scene stuck out to me - one character, naked (at least that’s how I remember it), surrounded by people wearing burqas. The people wearing the burqas faced forward as the naked character moved and sang, as the audience watched. This image gives me chills, haunts me slightly, and I don’t entirely know why. This is the beginning of the beginning, the first stick in the woodpile.
The same weekend, I heard back about the status of my tuition scholarship application to the American Dance Festival 6-week school: I got in! After a day’s debate, I decided to do it. Thus, I am taking a six week sabbatical from some of the Pilates teaching I do in order to take 3 dance classes a day, 2 hours each, 4 days a week, starting now. I will be completely immersed in modern dance, surrounded by creative people, challenged to speak (and dance) my voice, pushed to practice the life I preach. This is the beginning of the middle of the beginning, or the second stick in the woodpile.
And as soon as I said yes to the American Dance Festival, another amazing opportunity came my way - the chance to choreograph “Cabaret” for Peace College at the beginning of next semester (that’s Spring 2012). For those of you who don’t know, “Cabaret” is the smartest, edgiest, sexiest, and most political musical … ever. I re-watched it several times to affirm that I wanted to be part of the show, but by the middle of my first viewing I was in. The students and faculty I will be working with at Peace College are all extremely professional and ambitious, a very gifted bunch. This is the end of the middle of the beginning, the last stick on the woodpile.
And when I’m sitting down with a book of matches - namely, a book like “The Golden Compass” - there will be a fire. I got to thinking - between now and November, really between August (when the American Dance Festival is over) and November (when pre-rehearsals for “Cabaret” begin) - what do I want to do? That’s when my memory met my imagination, and I came up with The Burqa Piece. I don’t want to give too much away, but let me say it involves a lot of people wearing burqas, it will take place in a dimly lit space with low ceilings, and I have a lot of work to do before then.
Thomas Edison said that “Creativity is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”. Actually he said “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”, but I got inspired to change it and, after a lot of hard work, I did (ha!). Anyway, I’ve got the one percent. I’m working on the other 99%. I credit “The Golden Compass” for helping me realize how unique and important art can be in shaping my world, your world, the world - and also how much work it’s going to take. God Bless the American Dance Festival for allowing me the time, space, and encouragement for beginning to flush out the idea. And thanks to Peace College that when The Burqa Piece is all over, I can get my Fosse on.