My first instrument was the voice. Beginning at ten years I was singled out from choir to perform as a soloist. I was eleven in front of Mrs. Baird’s sixth grade class when my voice first cracked in performance as I swept up for a high note in “O Holy Night.” I resolved then to study the mechanics of the voice and began private voice lessons. Junior High School and High School were filled with song. At the end of High School I received an opera scholarship and entered the Cleveland Institute of Music. University Circle in Cleveland, Ohio, houses the Institute of Music, the Institute of Art, Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and numerous other schools and arts organizations. I was supported and inspired by teachers wherever I turned: in music, poetry, visual art, theatre, and dance. I earned three degrees in six years: a Bachelor of Music, a Bachelor of Arts in English, and an MA in Theatre. My fate was sealed. Creativity became a way of life. Later I would complete an MFA in dance.
I have never felt particularly identified with one art form. I am fond of this quote from The Thinking Body by Mabel Ellsworth Todd, “Set up the right conditions and it happens the way that it snows and rains.” My experience as a singer in a bel canto tradition established an appetite for flow. I have no desire that my work bear my ego’s signature. I want the effort to go undetected. I want the actors and dancers that I work with to be born on the current of relatedness and connection to each other and to the surrounding music score, lights and set design that comprise the world of the play or dance. There is always a point where I become unnecessary to the production and it flies and establishes its meaning without being tethered to my identity.
Dancing and choreographing in a studio, directing in a theatre, singing in a hall, or working on a poem seems to be the real part of life to me. This quote of Karl Wallenda, the great tightrope walker comes to mind, “Life is on the wire…the rest is just waiting.” However my experience of the “rest of life” is somewhat different from Wallenda. Life writes on my soul. It is breathing in and out. Ideas arise. Images arise. I take root in these the way a tree binds itself to the ground and then I wait for the wind to lift my leaves.