Just before 9am this morning there was the most unusual and remarkable sound rippling down the hallway at the studio. Day one of the 2010-2011 season, a company heading into an exhilarating period of touring and travel, of challenge and far, far too much uncertainty, and through the halls was the peel of laughter. To find that sound at that hour was to remember that there is an endless amount to be thankful for. To watch people find each other after a summer apart, of work and adventures which took us thousands of miles away, and to hear them so utterly happy to see one another, to be back in each others company.
CityDance has had so many extraordinary moments these past years, but that sound, and its richness, may well be my very favorite. It was the reminder we all need sometimes of "why we do what we do." And it was the depth of it that caught me, because it was a depth born of experiences that change each of us as we move through life, experiences that you can only have when you do what we do - when you dance through challenges and troubles and triumphs and falls. I felt that way standing on the stage in Ramallah at the end of the "+1/-1" collaboration having watched two totally disparate companies do the impossible because Christopher threaded an equally impossible needle and made something exquisite which honored everyone and pandered to no one. I felt it this summer watching Jason and Liz dive into teaching those same artists, and so many young ones emerging, in the studios there in Ramallah. Felt it listening to Amikaeyla sing in the Jerusalem Hotel and felt it as she and Chris recounted their stories and their work with the Sabreen Group in Bethlehem, teaching novice artists with brilliant voices how to command a stage. Felt it when the young actors from Bahrain shook of their nerves and found their place with us on stage in "Jungle Books." Felt it watching people I treasure - Daniel and Sydney, Kaitlin and Kate M, Kate J and Noelle and Alana -- in CityDance2 pull together and mount a concert in May that took each of them -- and the audiences they entertained -- to new places despite enormous odds and resistance. Felt it watching a dance in the Student and Youth Concert which leapt out from all the others and realized it was Maleek's. Felt it seeing Kathryn emerge as an artist of grace and endless beauty and compassion and insight as she absorbed the horror of a populace of displaced Iraqi refugees and translated it into a work that left all of us in tears as it moved us to understand that we had to do better. Felt it sitting on the floor in the big studio (405) a week ago as Giselle and William showed me and Kathryn the dance they'd devised for a benefit we'd been asked to perform at and realized that I adored what they'd done, and the pride of working with them that came in that moment. Felt it when Alice said "another year," because she's my touchstone and my anchor and an artist with so much yet to say.
There are so many moments.
All that was contained in the laughter that sailed around the studio today, the hallway this morning, and my head and my heart all night.
We turned a new page today, turned to a page called "Esplanade." Yes, that "Esplanade." Another person we treasure, Patrick C. launched 2010-2011 with one of the great and most utterly joyful and reaffirming dances of all the world, a gift on an endless number of levels from Paul Taylor, a man who has shown us kindness and grace in a way I could never adequately describe, that he has let us share with the company, with our friends and colleagues, with audiences around the world; that is given to us step-by-step by Patrick, who lights a room in a unique way.
There are an endless number of challenges facing us -- facing the world. Even a glance at the front page of the Times as it updates on my screen, or a reflection on the utter havoc of what climate change is already so visibly doing. Yet in moments when your heart sinks, there is a thing that reminds you of the possible. For me, for a long time to come, that's the sound of laughter, ringing down the hallway on a simple, single humid Monday in the deep summer.
Turning the page to a new season, remembering the utter grace of the last one, I see the faces of these remarkable people, and wonder at the fortune of it.