In the Queendom of Drag Culture, the terms Mother and Daughter refer to a sort of mentor/mentee relationship. When an established Drag Queen helps guide interested persons into the art of Drag, the new Queen becomes her Daughter, and thus she the Mother. In my pursuit to explore and understand my place within the dance community, this concept has lead me to consider my own "Dance Family Tree."
Within this exploration, I would have to name Loretta Livingston as my Dance Mom (not to be confused with the hit television series Dance Moms). For four years, at a hugely formidable time in my life, I trained almost daily with Loretta, in both Modern Dance Technique and Choreographic Composition. I also had the great fortune of performing orginal work by Loretta, both as a student and within a professional context with her company in Los Angeles. Loretta, an established choreographer and educator in her own right, trained under and performed for Bella Lewitzky for many years. Within this metaphor, Bella would then be my Dance Grandmother (and Lester Horton my Great Grandfather.)
At the age of 30 (the age I am now), Loretta went on to develop her own choreographic voice, retiring from the Lewtizky Company with full support from Bella. It would seem the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as I have recently left the company I danced with for many years in order to pursue my work as a choreographer and educator. Currently, in a beautifully poetic full circle, that pursuit has lead me to teaching a daily company class at the Post House, originally built for the Lewitzky Company by Bella's husband, on the property of their home. On the walls of this studio still hang posters from company performances, and an ice-chest with the handwritten name "Bella" sits on the front counter. The space is rich with years of love and the floors echo with the sounds of bare dancer feet, both past and present.
Included in this company of dancers are two additional former dancers from the Lewitzky Company (my Dance Uncles, if you will). To be granted this opportunity has helped highlight the value of my artistic practice. A practice that meets at the intersection of my personal explorations and research and the foundations instilled in me by Loretta (and therefore Bella and Lester). I leave these classes with a great sense of purpose and contribution for this amazing community I'm lucky to be a part of. The thought that I, too, may one day have a slew of Dance Sons and Daughters is equally strange and exciting. It also leads me to question what exactly it is I want to impart on the next generation. I think the search for this answer is part of the practice, and it may change throughout my lifetime. For now, I'll enlist the words of a very wise Drag Queen:
"That is the key to navigating this life -- don't take it too seriously. That's when the party begins." --RuPaul