Dancing at the 90/20 Birthday Party

September 27, 2010

Omigod I actually danced last night—at Movement Research’s “birthday party”—and am feeling it in my bones today. I was part of a trio with the esteemed Deborah Jowitt and Ze’eva Cohen that paid tribute to Frances Alenikoff on the occasion of her 90th birthday. Years ago, we three had separately learned a beautiful solo of hers called The One of No Way. Preparing for this event brought back the early 70s to me, when I worked with Frances. During that period, her creative spirit invigorated me, and seeing her last night reminded me of what a generous, loving person she is. With her shining eyes and ready laugh, she is still so full of life!



I’m thrilled that Movement Research has celebrated Frances. Barbara Bryan, head of MR, in her remarks, spoke of how central Frances’ loft, Eden’s Expressway, has been to the survival of MR. And Frances spoke of how happy she is that her space is being used for constant experimentation.


I had forgotten what it was like to be in the upper balcony of Judson Memorial Church looking down on the other performers as you warm up. I watched Matthew Rogers perform a wonderful excerpt of Tere O’Connor’s Wrought Iron Fog, and Judith Sanchez Ruiz improvise. Both dancers projected a sense of mystery within the decision-making process. Yvonne Meier gave Jennifer Monson orders with a list of words, which were hilariously subverted by Monson, with and without her wig.


All of these were so of-the-moment, so contemporary in their quicksilver changes, that our little trio was definitely a blast from the past. Or rather, a meditation from the past. The One of No Way is very quiet, with isolated little shards of movement here and there.


My one-minute segment had some deep pliés in second. My quads were never very strong, so I had to do a few of them ever night for a week so I wouldn’t keel over or get a cramp. But naturally I enjoyed dancing again and figuring out the transitions. And working with Ze’eva and Deborah, whom I’ve known for so long, was pretty wonderful.


I thank Movement Research for celebrating Frances Alenikoff, whose creativity and good cheer are boundless. (The other honoree was the 20-year old Movement Research Performance Journal, now edited by Trajal Harrell, and the latest issue has some great stuff in it.) I also thank MR for mixing the generations in this event…it makes our dance family larger.