Why I Dance: Katherine Crockett

June 30, 2015

Lead in Queen of the Night

Crockett as another intense queen: Clytemnestra. Photo by Hibbard Nash, courtesy Crockett.

My first dance experience was at age 4 in an expressive, flowing Isadora Duncan class. I began training in several techniques, and by 11, I knew dance would be my life. Here was a place where I could lose myself into a magical world, where my passion and intensity could be channeled. I found a match for my fierce determination in the rigorous discipline of ballet.

I became an apprentice with BalletMet Columbus, then graduated from high school at 16 to study at SUNY Purchase. But soon after, a surgery on my feet prevented me from dancing on pointe. I was scared—I needed to dance; it was my heart and soul. A teacher suggested I attend the Martha Graham School. Like a livewire that had found its outlet, my heart suddenly surged with a new empowerment and purpose. I felt a connection to the visceral truth in Graham’s movement, which originates in the core of the body where all the emotions are felt and lived. I joined the company soon after. Her pieces demanded I grow beyond my own self-criticism and fear, and opened me to become a channel through which creative instincts could flow. This incredible 21-year journey in Graham’s work shaped me as a person and as an artist. In my final performance with the company, one year ago, I danced as the great Queen Clytemnestra. This role was hailed as the peak of Martha Graham’s own career. It was a role I had originally been cast in seven years earlier but, because I was injured, I was unable to perform. Now here I was, in my final bow, body beaming from this incredible journey, every moment building to this, to share all that I am and all that Martha’s work had given me.

Tonight, I prepare to go onstage as another intense queen in the immersive theater production, Queen of the Night. In this, I dance a solo I choreographed about letting go of something you love in order to become who you truly are. We may fear letting go, but the beauty is that the end becomes the beginning of something new. Dancing this solo every night, I feel all my years with Graham flow through my body. I feel what Graham herself taught: to find your own unique expression and let that flow through you. Here I am, a new frontier ahead of me. I am empowered; I am ready. I let go, and the dance begins.