Saturday, May 03, 2008


My parents are incredible - in the 10 years that I have been a professional dancer/choreographer in New York, their friends and our family often ask "When will we see Melissa on Broadway?"
Beatifically my folks (they've practiced I think) say (I am paraphrasing of course) "Melissa's work isn't that mainstream, it may be in those venues eventually, but thats not her goal."

So why, after years of poo-pooing the Great Disney Way - was I so DAMNED excited when my sweet Zoe and Daniel were up on the stage of the freakin' Lion King bringing down the house with grace and feeling?
A few reasons that I can fathom -
The lovely cast of Hairspray sang an amazing R&B version of Bridge Over Troubled Waters in memory of Leslie's (a cast member) father, Kelly McDonald, who passed away in the AIDS blackness of the early 90's - this work meant something and they did an amazing job vocally.

Two days in a row, thousands of people were seeing a dance I had built
(quickly, and with Daniel and I saying "um ok, what next? oh you like this lift? great lets do it" being sure to keep it in the character relationship that we really wanted (father/daughter) and then me improv-ing until I had found just the right movement for Zoe...teaching it to her, re-working a little and then calling it DONE - Not the most process oriented of the works I have ever built!)

The stage is HUGE - gigantic, enormous, and even... ginormous - I was proud to see our dance weaving through the vocalists - with the dancers taking up the space, owning and inhabiting it....

And in a larger sense, each of these things assured me that if the chance occurs for me to create something in a large traditional venue (note: I don't think I had a big concern before) I can do it - and I can do it keeping my sense of aesthetic present - I will make the dance take the space it deserves and use gestures small and large to express the sentiment needed to get the point across - oh - and big ol' theater? no biggie -
Guess my Leo sense of Where I Belong is quite intact.
I had thought I would be a little cowed by the size.
I felt very matter of fact as I was in the moment of each part of the situation (rehearsals w/ the cast, tech with the b'way tech folks, etc)
Perhaps because it wasn't really that big of a deal, or all that different from what I normally do, and maybe because it takes a lot to star-strike me anyway...but it was just a first, and there will always be firsts...

However, I wonder if I would feel the same at venues I truly revere and have in my goals as a choreographer, like BAM, The Joyce or City Center...
I guess I'll just keep workin' towards 'em and I'll let you know when we get there!


Patrick said...

Go, Baby, go! I can understand the amused, ambivalent excitement over this opportunity, but one of the things we have to embrace (says the pot to the kettle) is the way our journeys have their own logic and time-tables. Who knows what seeds were planted during those two performances, or when they will come to fruition. For now I'm glad you were able to enjoy the experience for its own sake, and for the reassurance it gave you that your work can fill any space.

Unknown said...

Thank you pot!
you are very right....