Last Wednesday in New York City, I attended an open rehearsal of Complexions Contemporary Ballet. I love open rehearsals – you’re in the room with the dancers, there are no costumes, you hear them breathe, and the experience is up-close and personal. For the uninitiated, it’s a glimpse of what goes into making a performance. Like being backstage. Like watching a painting in progress. They count, make mistakes, it’s raw, and they are wonderful.
My initial connection to this company was through making my movie “One Last Dance.” Artistic Directors, Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, contributed choreography to my film, and Desmond also danced (amazingly) in it. And as with all the choreographers who worked on the film, Patrick and I remained close friends with them.
But what was even more special about seeing the rehearsal was I finally got to see a portion of “Mercy,” the ballet that has become something of a signature piece for the company. And what makes it even more special – the piece was created and dedicated to my husband, Patrick.
Dwight and Desmond came out to LA to visit in 2008 when Patrick was ill. It was then that Dwight asked Patrick how he’d feel about him making this piece and dedicating it to him. Patrick nodded that he would love it. It seems incredible that it’s only now I’ve gotten to see some bits of the piece: the beginning, a duet, and the ending.
Wow. I loved it.
You know, I’m always amazed when a piece of art, whether it’s music, a ballet, a poem…I’m amazed at how deeply it can touch. And when it does, it’s like a bit of magic happens.
I’ve run into so many people who are scared off of art because they think they have to “understand” it. Nah. I’m a great believer that art means whatever it means – to you. And for me, watching “Mercy,” it was about that delicate, tenuous space between life and death. It reminded me how fragile our hold on this world is – how we nervously negotiate the rights for the small place we inhabit here on earth, how we barter for our hopeful spot in heaven (or other parts unknown), and please, how we hope that we’re not taken before we’re ready to go.
There is something so huge, and so primal about the desire to live, and thrive. That, and what can’t help but follow next – the “big question,” death, and the fear of the unknown.
I know when Patrick was ill; those huge, looming questions weighed in all around us. We were being smacked up close to the unknown and the eternal. And to put it mildly – it really made us pause.
We hang on here by such a thin thread.
I could see why the ballet was named, “Mercy.” Mercy… What more can you ask when you are in that place between life and death? A circumstance you have no control over?
The dance was very deep for me, startling… And I was grateful. To be reminded of how precious my time here on earth is. How I should not squander it. That I should appreciate, and enjoy my appreciation of what I have right here, right now.
I was walking with a friend a couple days later. The streets in busy midtown were sun lit, warm, and perfect as we weaved in and out of the shoppers, heaved up with the crowds to stoplights, and sidestepped baby strollers… I felt like I was in a bubble, and felt a strange kind of bliss as I looked out at the people around me; they were laughing, talking, couples held hands, girls tittered and leaned on each other, a man smiled and seemed to smell the air… And I marveled – they look so happy. And I felt so happy for them.
One day, I’ll get to see “Mercy” in its entirety! However, for those in the Detroit area…
Complexions Ballet will be performing (“Mercy” will be on the program): this coming May 5th & 6th at Detroit Music Hall – Center for the Performing Arts.