How I got to work on CatherineMarie Davalos’ “Oh, the Moon!”

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Oh, the Moon!, my collaboration with choreographer CatherineMarie Davalos, opens this week at Saint Mary’s College as part of their annual spring dance concert, Terrain.  The piece is 3-4 dances that include various styles of text, all riffing around the subject of the moon.  While I have written scripts for movement heavy ensembles, I’ve never written for modern dance.  To create text that would act as a score and inspire movement was an experiment not in how to tell a story but how to link words and create drama through a sonic landscape.

So, how did I get this job?

Let me explain.

The moon was full over the Chrysler Building, which I can see from one window in my Queens apartment.  I was on edge of a long day.  You New Yorkers know those days, when you feel like you lived four lifetimes, equally horrible and amazing.  You think, “I am so glad to live here” while at the same time thinking, “This place is hell.”

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CatherineMarie Davalos

Cathy and I have history.  She used to be my professor back in the unsure Angela artist days.  Then she became my boss.  Now she is my colleague.   So she sent me an email and in it she asked, “What do you know about the moon?”  She was looking for poetry to inspire her latest moon-based piece.

So at 1am, sitting in my bed, with my hair piled on top of my head, the day still jolting my bones, my eyes falling but still refusing to sleep, I responded.  It was a crazy list of all things moon, bullet pointed and written in a haze.  At the end I told her, “I could make you a pop culture/ myth/science poetry jam thing.” Took about ten minutes to write and I was basically asleep when she responded in glee at my rambling late night brainstorm. (She later told me she was at a dance concert with her dancers and in her joy, her phone with my email was passed along to everyone.  Awesome!)

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was reading the entire transcript of the Apollo 11 mission to create a sonic landscape for a solo dance, I was writing couplets about Moon Pies and I was workshopping drafts via Skype as Cathy sat in her colorful patio in Oakland.

Moral of the story is…perhaps it is wise to send out spastic late night emails after exhausting NYC days.  They might get you gigs.  Like this one.  So stay up and answer your emails!  Do it!

I hope this piece develops into a full evening of dance but for now, if you are in the Bay Area go and check it out!  Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday, May 9–11, 8 p.m.  For more details visit SMC.

And read the transcripts of the Apollo 11 mission.  The space program is goddamn goddamn goddamn cool.  I am serious.  It’s the subject of my next play.  Mark my words.

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