I'm home in Atlanta for a few weeks and dipping into the archives of past projects. HeadFirst to UpsideDown was the first piece I made after college, and after recovering from shoulder surgery, and it has a sweet sweet spot in my heart. It marks the moment of my artistic homecoming to Atlanta, after living in Philadelphia and Greece, and it marks the moment that my gratitude for being able to dance at all overcame my just-out-of-college timidity and fear around what I would make/if it would be any good/what people would think. I really had no idea what my work even was or wanted to be at that juncture, and I felt distanced from myself as a dancing person after sitting around with my arm in a sling for so long. But when the sling finally came off... I JUST HAD TO MAKE A DANCE!
So I reached out to my friends. Some were dancers, some musicians, some folks who I thought were talented gems of people who would be game for A Fun Process. It's clear from watching the footage that I dressed everyone in a kind of found-object-sculpture-meets-childhood-dress-up-bin, bless their hearts. Then tossed into the soup an adult sized tricycle (found on the grounds of WonderRoot Community Arts Center where I was interning at the time), a liberal sprinkling of tambourines, house lamps, a clothesline, a number of leaves and branches--and is that a black mesh citrus bag on Holly's face?--and wrangled together a first attempt at a dance theater performance conglomerate.
And it remains one of the MOST FUN THINGS I HAVE EVER DONE. I giggle and sigh when I think about it. What generous friends and collaborators. What an incredible gift of trust they extended to me, having no idea what they were getting into. What moments of throwing themselves into the work--the music cue messed up and Dean, a banjo-playing school principal I'd roped in, did the best "Look!--a bird!" maneuver I've ever seen by thrusting himself center stage and doing the Worm. Tyler sang and danced his heart out with a sinus infection and bruised tailbone (fell out of a hammock). Rose and Daniel sang strange laments in made-up language. Micah preached about injury and recovery while sweating bullets and dabbing away with his hankie like the best southern preacher around. Danny Davis rigged clip lamps to the piano so we had a rolling instrument light fixture. GOSH--incredible singer-songwriters contributed original music and sang the Beirut covers and Medieval Spanish songs. It's a lot. It lives in a cheesy, joyous, golden place inside me. It brings to mind words like, "Cornucopia of Blessing," "picnic," "sunset," "Care Bears" and the like. It remains a celebration of generosity, friendship, silliness, of the deep goodness of bringing the material of our lives to the table and cobbling it together into a joyful work. It's the good stuff. It's just THE GOOD STUFF.
Okay, I'm gonna stop myself there.
It's good to be home in the spring time.
Here's a small bit of footage that my mama edited together a while back.
Performers: Daniel Bass, Rose Caudle, Holly Evans, Micah Dalton, Helen Hale, Dean Leeper, Tyler Lyle, Billy Mitchell, Gaelyn Powell, Lillian Ransijn. Original Music: Micah Dalton, Holly Evans, Billy Mitchell, Tyler Lyle.