The Zenon Dance Company opened its spring season at the Cowles Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Minneapolis last night (May 7, 2016). One of the works on the program is a reconstruction of my 1988 duet Merry-Go-Round with music by Glenn Miller and the Army Air Force Band. This dance has a long and interesting history. Below is a photo of Zenon’s Steven Schroeder and Sarah Steichen. Stephen is retiring after this season and director Linda Andrews wanted to give him a choreographic gift. This duet is it!
Merry-Go-Round has four sections, the introduction of the two characters, two very bluesy duets in the middle, and an intensely difficult finale. The middle two duets were originally choreographed for a dance called Swing Suite, a work on my very first 1979 New York City concert. I was the boy/man and Becky Bowden was the girl/woman. You can see us perform the duets on the Choreographic Excerpts page. I decided to make a new work for Zenon in 1988 creating the opening and the finale. It worked beautifully, originally danced by Keith Thompson and Jane Shockley. Mike Steele of the Minneapolis StarTribune gave the premiere a glowing review, calling Keith and Jane the new Fred and Ginger. It is gratifying to me that the dance started in 1979, expanded to something new in 1988 and is still vibrant and alive in 2016. That is a span of thirty-seven years! It kind of takes my breath away.
Every choreographer looks at their work in different ways and every point of view is valid for that person. Some create a dance and are happy to let it go after a first run of performances. They move on to new movement explorations and new ideas. If I create what I feel is a successful work, I love revisiting it. I always make changes and improvements. When I do revisit a dance, I revisit the memories of the dancers who helped me in the creative process. I almost always remember the studio we worked in and the feelings in the room. It is a very special and unique aspect of dancing that makes me smile.
Fall of 2016 at SMU, I will once again travel back in time to 1985 and reconstruct a dance called AVALON. It was commissioned by the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. I created it on students of the summer Jazz Dance Workshop and it had its premiere on the main stage of the Ted Shawn Theater. It has great music by Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich, Zoot Sims, George DuVivier and Teddy Wilson. I the set it on my concert jazz dance company and it became a repertory staple for many years. It was part of our program presented on the very first Joyce Theater Sampler in New York City.
Thirty-one years is a long time and the challenge will be my not being physically able to do a lot of the movement. There is a lot of jumping in the work . A dancer’s jump is one of the first things to go. At best, in 2016, I can do a a quality hop and a mean skip. I am up for the challenge and know that our wonderful students will help me figure it out. AVALON will be part of our fall concert and the music will be played live by the Meadows Jazz Ensemble. That is so great.