Tour de Force- Iowa

tour de force [ tr də fáwrss ]   
skillful feat: something done with supreme skill or brilliance
Synonyms: work of art, masterwork, magnum opus, tour de force, chef-d’oeuvre, stroke of genius
Successful return from Iowa after master classes, performances, copious cups of coffee consumed, much getting lost in the midst of a college campus, Pam’s chocolate chip cookies, long car drives, coveting carrot cake at an over-priced bakery, vintage clothing shopping, and late night conversations with close friends.

View on the drive, how scenic!

Pam, Mariko, and Walter- the name I dubbed Pam’s steering wheel because it groans like an old man with every turn

We left early on Friday and had a pretty smooth drive in, not toooo many dead deer on the side of the road. Jen gave a fantastic master class in one of the beautiful studios. There is something about a high ceiling that makes me feel both so small and so infinite in space. I ran into an old friend, Joe, who was a principal dancer with Louisville Ballet when I was a mere trainee. I believe he’s an adjunct faculty at the University now.
Then we had spacing and tech in the theatre. We wore black shorts, a variety of shape of black top, and we were supposed to wear long black socks but they were a little big on everyone’s feet. We all looked a bit like Dopey from Snow White, if Dopey was a feisty contemporary dancer. Having giant slippery socks underfoot made me feel incredibly hesitant in my movement, but I fear the costume element wasn’t the only thing to blame in that first run. I was nervous all day leading up to being in the theatre, and standing in the wings, felt myself questioning, ‘Do I really like doing this anymore?‘ I haven’t performed on stage in so long, I feel out of practice and my confidence level wasn’t the greatest. Nerves and fear can really mess with your head, with your goals, dreams, purpose.
we nixed the socks and danced barefoot which physically helped. After a good warm-up from Jen, a prayer led by Mary, and a quiet handheld circle with my fellow dancers, I think I was able to channel a remembered and present sense of just loving being on stage. I don’t think I gave my best performances this weekend, this was not my tour de force. But I do think that rediscovering the confidence to be a performer, to stand up with such incredible dancers is a pretty great achievement.
I absolutely love this piece. We performed, ‘Poetry‘ with choreography from our Artistic Director, Jennifer Medina set to music by Saul Williams. This is the opening music:
Is it any wonder, hearing that, why I had so much fun and felt so empowered during these shows? It also could be that this my first big performance with Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company. Or it could be because I saw this piece performed last year, reviewed it, and have been wanting to actually do it ever since. (Remember this?) I think another big high for me came from not just the personal but the shared experience. If there is one dancer in the company that I constantly look to for inspiration in musicality, physicality, performance, energy, strength, line, detail- you name it- it’s Tara. I remember last year when I wasn’t dancing at all, seeing her in this piece and saying, I want to be that. I want that sense of strength and beauty and both self-enjoyment and generosity and I want it through dance. Tara, and this piece of Jen’s, is really a big part of what brought me back into my passion. After the show and a big hug, Tara told me that she was happy to have shared the stage together and I couldn’t agree more. It’s been a long time coming, since I felt those first small feelings of wanting to be a dancer again, a dancer like Tara, pushing through the self-doubt and being somehow given the exact opportunity that pulled me back in.
It is such a gift to be part of a company that challenges, inspires, and also SUPPORTS each other.Possibly even more-so than her choreography, it is this creation- this company- that is Jen’s tour de force.
Saturday was a little bit crazy because there was a football game so the entire campus seemed dressed in yellow and black (mascot colors) and mostly drunk. What if everyone in any given town got this revved up for Nutcracker? I’m envisioning masses of people on the opening night wearing plum-colored suits, dresses made of candy, and the occasional rat tail.
I suppose the whole world isn’t ever going to be as enthusiastic about dance as I would want. Not to worry, I have my little group that is and I feel certain now in my own enthusiasm.
Here are a few pictures from the trip:

vintage shopping with Pam and a charming outfit that she chose for me

My favorite quote from the trip:
(Jess and Pam approach the theatre.. Jess grabs door handle and pulls, repeatedly, with gusto to no avail. Turns to Pam)
“I think it’s locked.”
“Ya think?” (I love Pam)
I don’t feel locked out anymore. xo- Jess

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