The Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival Competition
with his FRAGMENTS. The Grand Prize is a much-welcomed $5000.
With the January 2011 Whim W’Him performances
a new face was needed for the female role
(Kaori Nakamura being pregnant).
Lucien naturally thought of Melody,
they have known each other since the age of 9 or 10.
at a performance of the Santa Cruz, CA school where they trained.
Lucien didn’t know her at all—
though as he says, “I could be pretty noisy myself.”
He charged up to announce,
Two years later, at 11 or 12, they did their first real pas de deux.
At that tender age, as she delicately puts is, “a boy doesn’t have much muscle mass.” Through the years of training, they were paired often. In a small school like theirs, Lucien was the only serious boy, consistently there. (As my son Tim once said, on being accepted a ballet school in France at age 12, “There’s a good exchange rate for boys in ballet, huh?”) Of course it meant sometimes other girl dancers were jealous that she always got to dance with him, which led to some tense moments, says Melody.
But together she and Lucien learned about partnering and grew up as dancers. Although they ultimately went on to dance with different companies and live very different lives, their careers have paralleled each other’s in many ways.
is somber, even savage in parts, not for the faint of heart:
doing things that are scary and that they themselves hate…
…though there are tender and touching moments too, what keeps them together, and times when the two of them seemed allied against forces they cannot control…
“I have personal experience with that,” she says. “I know the reality, so it’s almost like type casting. It’s like therapy for me.”
For him, there are echoes in Monster of bad choices and hard times of his own.And yet it’s by not means a mere straight mapping of life onto dance. The process is far more subtle than that. Sometimes what is needed for the role is not known personally, “so then it’s acting.”
And there is always the need for the dancers to find a way to make the precise movements of this particular piece their own. There’s nothing generic about the progression from idea to art.
The long-time closeness of Lucien and Melody as ballet partners enables them to mutually comprehend and deeply embody such a complex and terribly dysfunctional relation,
yet still maintain their private integrity and professional camaraderie.
And for me, at least, one of the miracles of the performing arts, especially dance, is just this—
how the ideas of a choreographer
can be transmuted into a form, both abstracted and highly specific, that allows dancers to breathe life into it—via extrapolation, experience, and imagination—so its essence can be absorbed and recognized by the highly varied individualities of the audience members.
•Photos, unless noted below, are by La Vie Photography LaViePhoto.com
provided by Lucien Postlewaite