John Heginbotham never walks into rehearsal unprepared. Photo by Janelle Jones, courtesy the Watermill Center
Back in 2012, after 14 years dancing with Mark Morris Dance Group, choreographer John Heginbotham ventured out on his own. Don't think of it as going solo, though.
Almost from the outset, Heginbotham has embarked on a series of fruitful collaborations with other artists, via his namesake company, Dance Heginbotham, and through a stream of independent projects. His creative partners have covered a range of talents and genres: illustrator Maira Kalman (in 2017's The Principles of Uncertainty), opera director Peter Sellars (for Girls of the Golden West, which debuted at San Francisco Opera in November), and contemporary-music luminaries such as Tyondai Braxton and Alarm Will Sound.
Here's What He Has To Say: About starting his company, his rehearsal process and why he's drawn to creative mash-ups.
Freelancer Lindsey Jones is a study in contrasts. Her long limbs cut through the air with precision, not languor; a great physical comedian, she also carries herself with intense emotional restraint. As a company member of Dance Heginbotham, the 5' 9" dancer brings speed and specificity to his absurdist, angular moves. “It’s fascinating to see this long, tall figure moving really, really quickly,” says John Heginbotham. “She can work small and big—and not everyone can do that.”
Jones in Heginbotham's Twin. Photo by Amber Star Merkens, courtesy Dance Heginbotham
Companies: Dance Heginbotham, Pam Tanowitz Dance
Hometown: St. Louis
Training: Center of Creative Arts in St. Louis, BFA from SUNY Purchase, Merce Cunningham Trust’s Professional Training Program
Early experience: “I fell in love with tap first, at about 9. I was obsessed. The rhythms really spoke to me. My sister and I would tap on the street for money. We made a couple hundred bucks. I think $30 an hour was our average.”
Breakout moment: When Heginbotham came to SUNY Purchase to set a work on its dancers, she asked him to choreograph her senior project. When he agreed, “it was a huge validation,” she says. Heginbotham, who was still dancing for Mark Morris at the time, was so pleased with the resulting solo, he wound up expanding it into a larger work, Twin—his debut piece at New York City’s Baryshnikov Arts Center.
Intellectual approach: Jones describes herself as a sporty kid and “wild child,” but chose dance because of its cerebral challenge. “I was so bored when I played sports,” she says. “Dancing was harder—you were using both your mind and your body.”
Freelance challenges: Jones also dances for Pam Tanowitz Dance, restages Merce Cunningham work and juggles a variety of other projects. “I have to be my own best boss, do all the scheduling,” she says. “They don’t teach you that in school.” But the mix has helped her become a better dancer, she says. “I love the work I’m doing, and the different people I’ve had opportunities to work with. It’s always a growing experience.”