By Hayley Cutler
A little background on darlingdance company: I founded darlingdance in 2010 after returning to DC from grad school at the Laban Conservatoire in London. I have always known I wanted to be a choreographer, and starting this company was the realization of every decision I’ve ever made, and everything I’ve sacrificed and worked toward my entire life. It’s my baby, and I deeply cherish everyone who has had even the slightest part in making this company come to be.
The past two years have been the hardest and most rewarding years of my life. Every time I get into the studio with my dancers to begin a new work, two completely competing emotions overwhelm me – 1) pure joy and peace and bliss that this is my life and I get to make art and do what I love and people actually come see it and, OMG, sometimes they like it, and 2) complete and utter immobilizing fear that I am going to majorly *#$% it up. And here is where “And Every Year is Zero” comes in.
This piece, a duet originally set on the dashing Rick Westerkamp and the beautiful, oh-so-quirky Felicia Stevens (now performed by Stevens and the incredibly talented Briana Carper), is the first piece I’ve made where I’ve thrown the cautions of Totally Overthought Emotion #1 and Totally Overthought Emotion #2 (see above cheesy paragraph) to the wind. Previous works have been so carefully calculated, and the processes have been so guarded, so as to ensure that I’m presenting exactly what I believe my aesthetic to be and what I believe people have come to expect of my work. I describe my aesthetic typically as postmodern, abstract, mathematical, and, most importantly, driven by spatial arrangements and shapes, not emotion or narrative.
At the point where I was ready to begin “And Every Year,” however, my life was disgustingly filled with emotions – the love kind. I was missing a boy, and honestly, I just needed to get it all out. So I decided not to worry about reviews, or consistency in my aesthetic or how darlingdance could all come crashing down at my feet and I’d be a secretary for the rest of my life (ain’t no shame), and I just Made. The. Darn. Piece. And – even more terrifying – I presented it to actual human audiences this past summer completely unfinished (with an accidental music choice and long chunks of silence). And it turns out that unfinished it shall remain, because I’ve come to love this piece so much that while I continue to claim it’s a work-in-progress, I don’t really know that I could mess with something that has surprisingly been such a personal experience for me.
“And Every Year is Zero” is a reminder that sometimes when we miss things (things = ex-boyfriends), we miss them through rose-colored glasses. We push that time he made you cry on your birthday aside and remember the time he brought you your favorite flowers when you were vomiting on everything, and think we’ll never find anything so blissfully (and BS-fully) perfect again.
…and this is probably the only time in the history of my hopefully-million-year-long career as a choreographer that I’ll ever ‘fess up to what my work is “about.” So you should probably print this out and save it, Mom.
“And Every Year Zero” will be performed by darlingdance company at Joy of Motion Dance Center’s annual Dance Project. Dance Project takes place Saturday, December 1st, 8:30 p.m. at The Jack Guidone Theater. Tickets start at $12.