How to Leap 3,000 miles: Dancing the Distance

I naively thought that once I started my company and had a season, that things would sort of roll forward from there.

I would have an audition, gain some new dancers, create more work, and have more performances. I knew that it would always be hard work., even the big, established companies such as Paul Taylor Dance Company, continually seek to grow and engage audiences in new and innovative ways (hence the change to Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance).

I am excited to pour myself into Sasso & Company, but I did not anticipate I would be directing my second season from across the Atlantic Ocean.

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In January of 2015, I married the love of my life, and we began planning our life together, only we were separated due to immigration laws. He is a British Citizen, and I am a United States Citizen. The short version of this story is that we poured a lot of love, money, and energy into our visa paperwork and were to lucky to be granted our marital visa, which began my path to moving to England. As with any incredible life change, there are always a lot of things to be considered.

The First Mile

Professionally, I was excited to have the opportunity to create work in a new environment, to experience the dance community in London and to gain insight and life experience that would hopefully help me grow into a more thoughtful and honest artist.

On the flip side, I had no idea what to do with my dance company. I had lived in Boston for the past six years and felt that I had become a part of the dance community. I had performed in companies, taken classes from incredible teachers, worked with talented students, and started my own company. I feel blessed that my dancers are talented and hard-working, but they are also my friends. I cherish their commitment, their positive, creative energy, and their gusto for life. Rehearsals are hard work, but they are also really fun, and often funny.

This summer, when I told my dancers that I was leaving, they were sad, but they were also eager to hear my idea to run the company from across the ocean.

What I have discovered is this – Ideas are easy, execution is difficult.

Dancing the Distance

A simple thing such as booking rehearsal space has now become a big task. I have to make sure I do the time zone math (I am 5 hours ahead of Boston) so that the studio is open when I call, I have to pay the cost of the international phone call, and then I have to figure out a way to pay for the space since an Internet transfer is not an option.

All that being said, the girls and I are plowing forward.

My rehearsal director, Colleen, has graciously attended the BDA (Boston Dance Alliance) open call audition and found an amazing pool of dancers that we have invited to our callback. While I am excited to possibly have new dancers join us, I am also sad that I will not be able to work directly with them this season.

I am constantly filled with a mixture of emotions when I think about the season ahead. I feel a bit like I have abandoned the company and my dancers. I feel guilty that I have put pressure on someone else to execute rehearsals, payments, and daily rehearsal schedules, all of which are items that I would generally handle as the director.

As a result, I have given a lot of thought to the work that we will be creating this season, and I have decided to make this distance our muse for the season. Distance is such a relative term in my experience. I have felt extremely close to friends that are thousands of miles away and likewise completely disconnected from persons who are sitting in the same room.

Love from a Distance

This season will be an exploration of how distance effects communication, creation, friendship, family, and connection in general.

More specifically, Colleen and I are co-creating a piece utilizing two common phrases – one that I created and one that she created — and a lot of experimentation. In fact, she will be creating a piece for the stage (manipulating the phrases in any way she wishes) and I will be creating a film installation (that she will not see until the performance).

For this piece, the distance is the inspiration for the creative process. I am anxious and excited to see what comes of our long distance collaboration.

The company will also be presenting work from our repertory including Companionate Love and The Ties That Bind Us, among others. The love project will continue to be developed using Sternberg’s Triangular Theory as a guide. Other new works are being discussed, with choreographic collaboration being a main source of creation in the coming months.

I wish I could say more about the process, the plans, the performances that will be happening, but truth be told, it is all up in the air at the moment.

The wonderful, beautiful, and terrifying truth about being a dance artist and running a company is that there are no guarantees. I have many hopes and dreams and I can see the potential for an inspirational season ahead, but for now I put my faith in my dancers and our fans to believe in the power of our connection, no matter the physical distance. I cannot wait to see what is created between now and next spring. I hope you join us on this creative journey.

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Photo credit: Matt Zhang

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One response to “How to Leap 3,000 miles: Dancing the Distance

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