“Atlantic Man” was created by Jean in 2003 and the re-staging of this work for Dances of Love, Laughter & Loss is a very exciting way to start the New Year. We asked Jean about revisiting this piece:
I just had so many people asking when I was going to remount the work, including Terry Wilson and my daughter Liv, who danced it in 2003. The last time I did it, the complexity of the piece proved so frustrating and nerve racking that I abandoned plans to remount it. This time around, I have been completely satisfied with the process. With Terry and Liv setting the movement as they remembered it, I was able to completely re-choreograph the piece to create a stronger more consistent narrative.
We then chatted with Terry and Liv, and here’s what they had to say about this special and unique process.
Terry: I was in the original cast of “Atlantic Man.” The process of making the dance was also made into a documentary. This was the last piece I performed for Jean. I was 43 years old and I knew it was time for me to retire. I distinctly remember being back stage at the California Center for the Arts, waiting for my entrance on stage and knowing that this might just be it for me.
Resetting the dance on the company was filled with bittersweet memories, kinesthetic responses, captured moments of awe and sadness. I lost my identity as a performer when I retired and the dance is about loss. Spending time with the dancers in rehearsal has helped me regain that identity, which then is about being full or complete.
This “Atlantic Man” is very different from the original, but holds true to the concept and style. The differences are as it should be, as the dance is so deeply rooted in individual interpretations of context wrapped in Jean’s technique and exquisite sense of crafting dance. Intellectually, I know how complex choreography can be, but the possibilities with this piece and these dancers were endless. The company was working with Jean, Liv and myself to re-work the dance and we were never all together at the same time. Laying down movements and movement phrases did prove to build a platform for the dance that allowed Jean to sculpt it into the piece it is now, but the process for all of us, especially the dancers, was a little bit scattered.
Now seeing how exquisitely the dance has emerged, just underscores my fascination with the process. I hear the music and see the movement and I am immediately moved to tears, which I mostly struggle to conceal. The dancers in Jean’s company are beautiful, smart, sensitive and innately gifted artists, so they have taken the piece farther. I am very grateful for the time spent rehearsing with SDDT.
Liv: I have so many memories of the creative process of the original “Atlantic Man.” I remember striving to move as a united company. And developing a very thick and powerful movement base that Jean created from. The company was dancing at a very strong and visceral level at that time and I think this piece has challenged the current company and brought them up to an exciting level!
It is always rewarding to reset my mom’s works. The movement is still there in my body somewhere, and as soon as I watch the video I get excited to jump up and remind my body how it felt. I love the feeling that I am somehow continuing a legacy that will live on. The dancers were very patient and open to receive the new (old) material and, together, we created a better version of the piece. The most rewarding part about setting “Atlantic Man” is knowing that by doing so, Jean’s early repertoire (which has a different tone) lives on.
The journey of “Atlantic Man” continues. We can’t wait to see it on the Weiss stage on January 16, 17 & 18!
Want to know about as a French writer and film director Marguerite Duras and the inspiration for this work? Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marguerite_Duras