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Douglas Dunn

As we approach the 20th anniversary of Older & Reckless, we remember the senior dance artists who have joined us over the years, including maverick dance icon DOUGLAS DUNN (New York)

Douglas Dunn at Older & Reckless 2014- photo by Tamara Romanchuk

“What an honour to feature Douglas in the 15th anniversary of Older & Reckless at Canadian Stage. During his time here, it was thrilling to share his unique artistry with the Toronto community. Here below, I share excerpts from Douglas’ beautifully articulated report.” – Claudia Moore

Steven Taylor and I just spent ten days in Toronto. Three professional musicians and six experienced dancers appeared for our Saturday-Sunday workshop, Music & Dance: Friends or Enemies. We worked head-on, side-by-side, and back-to-back, playing as many dance-music juxtapositions and permutations as we could imagine. The rapport and the material were so enlivening that we fantasized taking the show on the road.

On Monday, at the invitation of Artistic Director Patricia Fraser, I lead a workshop at The School of Toronto Dance Theater. A record-for-me fifty-five students crowded the Studio Theater. The congestion was in fact instructive: as viewers, each waiting group saw the kind of dance that results from setting mini-activities and allowing them to be executed in any order.

On Tuesday we had our tech. Steven sounded firm playing guitar and piano and coordinating with computer and multiple gizmos. Myself I was still figuring out how to arrange and how to time my planned bits, including a memorized monologue (“…asparagus grows out my head…”). To my dismay, despite the “age-justified” context, I felt a new vulnerability at the prospect of appearing solo, no accompanying youthful dancers to demonstrate vigor and virtuosity to offset my ramshackle anatomy.

On Wednesday, at York University, at the invitation of Associate Professor Carol Anderson, I screened Secret of the Waterfall, the half-hour video-dance commissioned by Susan Dowling of WGBH Boston in 1983, directed by Charles Atlas. What a pleasure! Despite being among young strangers, there I was, tearing up. Carefree, I fell headlong into the emotively charged gap between now and then, seeing my company of the period rising with clarity and esprit to the first-time challenge of ten takes (or so) per scene!

Thursday through Sunday, Steven and I performed our latest iteration of Near Miss as part of the 15th anniversary of Older & Reckless. If dancing when youthful was flying free with wax-less wings…if dancing in middle age was pouncing cloud-to-cloud, landing ever so softly…then dancing at seventy-two is climbing The Eiger in a blinding snowstorm with frozen fingers and no rope. Stage fright I always found energizing. The trepidation surrounding and impinging on my five fifteen-minute exposures during this week was something new. The semi-harrowing experience ignited an unexpected illumination: that without knowing it I have always held inwardly a qualitative threshold below which my company and I must not fall—because audience deserves at least that level and above.

- Douglas Dunn

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