I just finished what my friends call a “donaldbyrdtrip”.
I departed Newark to Seattle, airport codes EWR and SEA (I’ve taken to memorizing the codes) at 8:20 am on Sunday 13 December. At 6:00 am on Monday December 14, less than 24 hours later, like a vampire retreating from the advancing sunrise hoping to avoid being fried to a crisp by the sun’s impending rays, I find myself walking, no, lurching through the same Newark airport … My mind reels and my body screams for sleep. A week earlier I had flown Gothenburg, Sweden (GOT) to Amsterdam (AMS), two days later Amsterdam (AMS) to Seattle (SEA) via Los Angeles (LAX), then the next day off to New York (JFK) and now this. I desperately need to lay down and close my eyes for a bit before I have to be at a 10:00 am rehearsal in mid-town Manhattan….
Ok, so the question is why? Why do I do things like take a 6 hour transcontinental trip to sit in a theater to watch an hour-long dance program, then turn around and make the reverse trip back all on the same day? Or fly to Sweden to perform a 15 min solo when the financial don’t really work? Why do I say YES to things when NO might be the more sensible response?
I used to think I made wacky choices because I was ambitious, driven, and being strategic (I am), or I had a deeply rooted need to people please (maybe), or “The est Standard Training” indoctrination of keeping my word (possible). … Those may all be true but I don’t think those are the only reasons. I accept that I am not always a sensible person and that I am driven by a need to succeed, but I am also a person who wants and has a need to serve and be fulfilled by what I do.
When I was in my late 20’s my friends would howl with laughter because I used to say I wanted to be a “modern dance giant”. “You mean like Martha Graham?” Convulsive, rafter-shaking guffaws followed. Inexorably, I was ridiculed into silence and I stopped saying it. But I still believed it…
Now I know that what I desired then was not to be a “modern dance giant” in an egocentric sense or in a public acknowledgment way (both which may also be true) but rather in the sense that I loved dance so much I wanted to not only be a part of it but wanted to make a contribution to it as well. How could I serve IT, The Dance? How could I give back to the one thing that had so transformed me? With The Dance I had found an identity (dancer, choreographer), a voice (a way of expressing how I saw the world), and my Calling. And I wanted to share my enthusiasm. My fervor would be evangelical in its intensity and passion. I would be a fiery John the Baptist for The Dance. I would serve that which had awakened and transform me. And the results would be monumental!
Some have said to me that Spectrum is such a small platform to do the things that I aspire to doing – but I don’t believe that. What might be true is that I have not always articulated the scale of the vision I have for Spectrum. Perhaps what has kept me quiet is I am still listening to my friends from 30 plus years ago shrieking with amusement at my big dream; that I have allowed myself to be silenced out of fear, seeming grandiose, egomaniacal, or just being told that it is impossible. But those donaldbyrdtrips are an indication of something and that something is a commitment to the transformation of Spectrum and Seattle’s contemporary dance scene into something that is glorious, magnificent, and unparalleled. Now I’ve said it.