I've been told I started dancing as soon as I began to walk. In recent years I’ve had strong feelings telling me I will drop dead at the age of 105 while I'm dancing (apologies to anyone who has to witness this). I love this notion and hope it’s true but the major glitch is that I haven't danced for quite some time. I'm not sure when or why I stopped but I slowly tapered off after my last performance in John Giffin's ensemble in 1990. For years I would also go out dancing in clubs until all hours...never needing anything but the movement to create the most spectacular high anyone could ever want....but slowly my creative energy was consumed by helping to create safe spaces for young people to dance, paint, draw, act, rap, drum....on and on.... and my new high came from watching them uncover their own incredible gifts. In the wonder of all this creativity I abandoned my first love.
Fast forward. This week I try something terrifying. It's only three minutes of terrifying but terrifying still. I've been invited to perform in a dance concert with the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company. I'm performing a very short story, Ashtabula Girl, to attempt to touch on the way that dance can shift the course of a life.
I could never comfortably sit still as a kid unless I was lost in a great book so dancing was a powerful gift from the universe that saved this confused child. While home and school were torture for me during my early years I gained immeasurable confidence from the discipline of dance and the response to my performances. I truly was stunned to learn I had something to offer at a time that I thought I was worthless. My childhood challenges and the unlikely angels who came into my life to teach me and cheer me on joined beautifully to give me the skills to "pay it forward" with the work I'm able to do now. While I didn’t understand the painful experiences at the time I’m grateful for the learning. It really helps me look deeper when a young person initially seems unreachable. Those walls come down slowly but I know they can come down.
Back to the upcoming performance. It feels good to move again. It's a bit like the contact improvisation that we did in the 80's. I don't think anyone really was all that excited about watching it but it sure was a lot of fun to do. I'm not really moving much in the work this week but I'm moving again in my heart. I think that another life shift is germinating. It's scary and exciting and I'm grateful to Kristina for "forcing" me to move away from the computer screen and listen to what this amazing instrument called a body might want to tell me. Maybe a more substantial work will emerge. We'll see.
Kristina Isabelle Dance Presents
"The Floating City"
Riffe Center Studio Two
Thursday, Dec. 5, and Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 * 7:30 p.m.
Admission: $22 General/$11 Students
Tickets: All Ticketmaster locations, ticketmaster.com,
CAPA Box Office or by phone at 614-469-0939
Columbus native Kristina Isabelle presents the Columbus premiere of The Floating City - a multimedia production featuring moving sets by Grant Sabin, video by Octane Rich Media, sound Christopher Preissing and lights Julie Ballard. Performers: Diana Deaver, Sarah Gown, Kristina Isabelle, Angela Luem, Marley Schmidt
Guest artists Karen Bell, Jackie Calderone, Susan Van Pelt Petry and Columbus Moving Company will also perform at each evening's performance.
Statement by Director and Choreographer Kristina Isabelle
"The Floating City" is a multimedia production that explores the place within, a place of feeling stuck or in transition, the place between this world and the world in our heads. It is a surreal exploration of shifting environments, creating a moving landscape of time and relationships inspired by the writings of Haruki Murakami.
The work is inspired by the idea of environments and creating a dance landscape to tell a story. I wanted to develop a dance piece like a play, in a set with video as an added depth to the storyline. This place will push us forward in our relationships, sometimes abstractly and sometimes in determining our physical place or landscape. The storytelling techniques in Murakami's work are
incorporated as a foundation for our explorations.
"The Floating City" is abstract, yet layered with emotional undertones and you can determine your own story within our story. Is it a dream or is it real?
"The Floating City" was created with support from the Chicago DanceMakers Forum Lab Artist award and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events' In The Works Residency, as well as donors to a Kickstarter Campaign. The Columbus performance is sponsored by Barbara Fergus.
To see a review of the Chicago premiere of The Floating City on Oct. 24-26:
To see one of the nine videos in the production by Octane Rich Media: