Sometimes, realizing your dream is better than you imagined. Sometimes, the dream itself is better than the reality. But what happens when you belong to that rare group of talented artists who are able to make passion and vocation align? Is there more suddenly at stake when your dreams really do come true?
For internationally acclaimed dancer, author, choreographer and teacher Adrienne Clancy, it means that art starts to imitate life. “I think with all of us, with any dreams that we have, there’s that question of if we are ready for them, do they really come in the form that we want them to come in,” said Clancy, the founder and artistic force behind Silver Spring-based ClancyWorks Dance Company.
Her dream was to found her own dance company, and after 15 years of living that dream, Clancy is inviting audiences to join her. The latest phase of ClancyWorks’ “Dream Catchers” will debut during the company’s 15th anniversary celebration on May 14 at American Dance Institute in Rockville.
“Dream Catchers” is a contemporary dance exploration of what happens when you are finally living your dream. This narrative is told on stage through a half dozen dancers who carry with them their own set of dreams and the potential to make those dreams come to fruition. A single white egg represents all this potential. The dancers carry the eggs as they dance. At times, the images of eggs are superimposed onto the dance floor, leaving dancers to literally walk on egg shells. Or, are they stepping on the dreams of others? Sometimes, the eggs are hurled across the stage.
For most of the piece, the eye is not directed to a single point on the stage space. By design, it seems a collective of movement and feels just short of chaotic—like a scrambling omelet. Rarely are dancers operating within the same vertical plane. At one point in the piece, a dancer appears to be groveling on the ground, egg in hand, almost as if she is in conflict with it or coming to terms with something. Elsewhere, a group of dancers in rooted, low squats move together, swiveling, tangled and intertwined. There are occasional gasps of gestures outward and upward. These movements come in bursts and are rhythmically echoed in other dancers’ movements across the stage, giving the effect of a reverberating pulse, a beating heart.
The choreography in “Dream Catchers” has all the traits of Clancy’s signature architectural partnering. “Aesthetically, with our dancers, you’ll always see some sort of interaction,” Clancy said. “For me, the question of what dance is about is understanding the interpretation of relationships on a core level.”
There’s the literal, physical partnering of dancers on stage. Dancers connect with physical objects–like the eggs. At a higher level, they are partnering with ideas and concepts–like dreams. Combined, these partnerships layer like bricks, building a foundation for bigger messages. In “Dream Catchers,” for example, dancers literally climb the bodies of others in order to leap to the top. Are they stepping on others to attain their dreams? Are they being lovingly supported? What are you willing to sacrifice to make your dreams come true?
“Dream Catchers” isn’t exactly an autobiographical work, but the thread of sacrifice and facing the reality of what it means to be living your life’s dream rings true for Clancy. “What you start to realize when you have an organization is that 98 percent is administrative, and you’re fighting for that 2 percent to actually make the artwork,” Clancy said.
Clancy has multiple academic degrees, a bachelor’s of fine arts in choreography from Virginia Commonwealth, a master’s in dance from University of New Mexico as well as a doctorate and a master of fine arts from Texas Women’s University. In addition to running her own dance company, she teaches at George Mason University, writes extensively about dance and penned the forward to choreographer-dancer Bill Evans’ 2006 book, “Reminiscences of a Dancing Man.”
“Can I keep all those eggs in the air?” Clancy asked rhetorically. “It is a beautiful thing when you get your dream, but it can sometimes be a nightmare. How do you keep your dreams in control so that they don’t become nightmares?”
Staying rooted and appreciating small accomplishments help, Clancy said. Her company hosts a yearly Dance Educators Training Institute and has a robust in-house education program; proceeds from the May 14 event will go toward community-based dance education efforts.
A lot of this comes back to partnering. “If you think of that idea of partnering being at the center, whether it’s one-on-one with a partner or it’s metaphorically with an idea or in an organization, there’s a lot of learning that you can apply within all the different disciplines,” Clancy said. “In our work, the partnering is going to be at the center of everything.”
For more information, visit www.clancyworks.org.