To the Women:
To the Women who have taught me to lead from kindness, proving through their actions that power, strength, and genius are not traits that need be linked with cruelty or condescension.
Recently, I was told I earned a teaching position because I have a kind approach to leadership. This was probably the best compliment I could receive given my mission and goals with Bodies in Play, but it’s also something I can’t take full responsibility for. I often wonder how, as a white cis-gendered man, I might move through the world had I not had the great fortune of spending most of my life taught and lead by women. Most of my teachers and dance instructors throughout my life have been women. Every dance company I’ve every performed with has been directed by a woman. Every. Single. One. There’s no way this hasn’t informed my teaching and choreography practice - for the better, I whole-heartedly believe.
To the Women who have always been there when the men disappoint. Who provided support and literal shelter and never made me feel strange for preferring female companionship.
When I was 5 I was the only boy from school invited to the all girl sleep over party. This was a cause for concern for parents, but a compromise was made where I could participate in all the pre-bedtime games and activities but would be picked up at the end of the night when it was time to go to sleep. While the message this engrained into a young boy’s brain was “you’re different”, this sentiment has never been given any credence by the many women who have loved me throughout my life. There have been countless sleepover parties since.
To the Women who break “the rules,” empowering others and giving permissions to live outside societally accepted norms.
Since 2012 I’ve lived with an image of juxtaposing Alanis Morissette’s Clean Hands with Lady MacBeth’s Out Damned Spot speech. Besides the obvious superficial relation, however, I could never quite justify the connection - not enough for a full piece at least. This all changed in 2016, when I became aware of a certain politician’s media comparison to Lady MacBeth, due to her “thirst for power.” In acknowledging the insidious nature of Misogyny engrained into our culture, I had to wonder: how much blood is on my own hands? From this, the work wrote itself and the use of Ms. Morissette, another Lady M and music’s quintessential Nasty Woman, seemed only fitting for my 1990’s influenced pop art aesthetic. Thus, The Ballad of Lady M was born, and I have been fortunate enough to receive support to develop this work through Dance Resource Center - first as a solo in Rosanna Gamson’s Terra Nova, and more recently as a quartet through the HomeGrown Residency at UCLA/World Arts and Cultures.
To all the women who have inspired me to be a better man.
There was a moment when I thought the solo would be the end. That I had fulfilled my original vision and could move on to the next project. However, it’s this quartet version that has been the most illuminating. To be placed into a position of leadership, directing others what to do and how to use their bodies, has forced me to truly face the reality of unconscious biases when it comes to gender and sexuality. Not to say I’m any closer to unlocking the secret to gender equality, but I do feel more integrated into the societal dialogue. So while the piece won’t answer any questions, I do hope it invites further conversation.