From the age of five, I fell in love with dancing. It was and is one of my ways to express delight, joy, sorrow, sarcasm, silliness, drama. In other words, my innermost feelings. I began dancing at a simpler time when abs were called abdominals, when no one said gluts or reps or calories burned. When leggings were called tights, and no one but dancers wore them out in the street. Oh yes, we wore them, defiantly, giddily, after a class or even after performance our faces covered with heavy cake foundation, baby blue eyeshadow, black eyeliner drawn almost to our ears, and red red lipstick all bought on the cheap from People’s drug store in suburban Maryland. It was the only time I wore makeup even to this day.
I was fortunate to become devoted to modern dance-a place of barefoot flexed foot experimentation and storytelling based on contemporary and ancient themes. My idols: Martha Graham and her flock Merce Cunningham, Erick Hawkins, and Paul Taylor. Along the way Alvin Ailey, Judith Jameson, Trisha Brown, Michael Baryshnikov, Momix, Pilobolus, Twyla Tharp.
One summer in the late 60s, my friends and I took the bus down to the summer festival on the Washington Monument grounds. A simple stage set up, rows of chairs, which at that age were too expensive for us. ($5?) So, we sat in the back on the grass seats for free about to be mesmerized by a company of black dancers who sprung across the stage with such exuberance we became immediate fans. The choreographer Alvin Ailey had created a dance suite called Revelations, about the black gospel experience that was a revelation to us. Judith Jameson strode across the stage, a tall goddess of a woman in a swirling white skirt and blouse, a parasol and an attitude. She and the other women portrayed Sunday in church on a hot summer southern day.
We went back the next day and paid for seats. And the next day.