It’s the same every year. The lead up to a DANCEworks residency is dense with criss -crossing emails, mis-communication, missed communication, doubt, endless decision- making, carefully crafted donor-appeal letters, grant applications and meetings between staff and board to brainstorm, cheerlead and iron out wrinkles. It’s not surprising that by the time I reach the end of the planning process each year, I have almost forgotten what all this prep is for.
But then the magic moment arrives. It happens each year. Without fail. The Payoff!!
Yesterday, planning behind us, I slipped into a seat at the Lobero Theatre to watch the beginning of rehearsals for DANCEworks 2014 with Mark Dendy. I was immediately transported far away from the Land of Tedious Details.
On stage, Mark is soft spoken and modest, all the while exerting a quiet, strong presence. He has the focus of a laser beam, that even his young prancing dog cannot disrupt, as he gives suggestions/directions to his dancers. I watched a duet being created to Elvis Presley’s, All Shook Up. Not just any old dance, but a playful, hip, seductive, gear- changing romp. Mark’s choreographic ideas effortlessly emerge one after another from a deep reservoir of experience and somatic understanding. His attention to the power of detail amazes even detail-crazed me. A small added gesture he adds makes a big impact. When words don’t quite suffice, he effortlessly demonstrates all kinds of moves for his dancers. Watching Mark choreograph today creates the same fascination I felt when I first saw Mark dance more than 15 years ago.
Suggest, watch, repeat, suggest, watch, repeat as phrase piles upon phrase and dance is created.
“Can you….?” Mark matter- of- factly asks his dancers to do what seems impossible.
“That’s it!” he announces when they comply and he sees what he’s after.
That’s it, indeed!