I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, in the 1960s. Who knows why one chooses a career, but after starting dance lessons very young, by fifteen I knew that’s what I wanted to do. After pre-professionnal training at the University of Louisville, with a former Paris Opera dancer, I went to Sarah Lawrence College in New York, graduating with a BA in 1979. From there I moved to New York City.
Life is a series of encounters, that open windows for new directions, and change. Seeing Valda Setterfield in a solo by David Gordon, I discovered a whole new idea of performance ; after a workshop with them, I was hired in a piece by David, The Matter, and began life as a dancer in New York, in the early 80s. A dancer’s paradise. Then came Dance, Lucinda Childs’ majestic piece which I saw at it’s premiere, and was mesmerized. In 1981, I started dancing for Lucinda, creating and performing a number of works with her, among them the first revival of Einstein on the Beach, by Robert Wilson and Philip Glass (New York, 1984). Extremely demanding, physically and mentally, I consider her work to be fundamental in shaping how I move and think about dance. That is, I like to move, large, with pure, clean lines, and fill the space. And throughout this time, there was the dancer’s daily bread of classes, in my case, with Maggie Black, Merce and other teachers at the Cunningham studio, Dan Wagoner, Douglas Dunn, to name but a few.
Touring in France, I discovered the work of Jean-Claude Gallotta and the then Groupe Emile Dubois ; the opposite of Lucinda, his troupe was tribal, and I wanted to be part of it. I was given that opportunity in 1985, with Mammame, and the film of this piece by Raul Ruiz. I then stayed in France, working with among others, Francine Lancelot, François Raffinot and Système Castafiore.
And started a life in France, which includes two children. So that at a certain point, the life of big theaters and touring and interpreting other people’s work becomes less enticing. I began seeking another meaning in dance, and for the last ten years or so, I have built dance projects with people who might otherwise not encounter it : women in prison, people suffering from physical or psychiatric handicaps, or both. These experiences have inspired several dance pieces, including Quartier Femmes, a solo dedicated to women in prison ; Not for Unsteady Souls, a duet with a friend who became tetraplegic ; and a piece for ten autistic adolescents.
Since my years in New York I have studied Tai Chi Chuan, continuing in France with the same teacher since the late 1980s. Tai chi is about transformation, about letting the form on the outside allow change on the inside. It is also about repetition, and facing oneself within this repetition. Changing cultures is quite an invitation for transformation ; Lucinda’s work as a form embodies repetition and change ; and dance therapy seeks to offer others, and oneself, transformation through dance.
Change, repetition and questioning. I never thought I would still be dancing today, but it seems that, along with Tai Chi, that is part of the journey.