L.A. Dance Company Hosts Al

Last Saturday night, I got to do something I so very rarely have the occasion to do: I had backup dancers! Well, sort of. The Los Angeles Dance Academy is a 6 month old organization whose first performance I attended earlier this year. I was so inspired by their performance that I ran up to the founder afterward and said, “Marie-France! I have to write a piece for you, called Kite.” 6 months later, this past weekend, I delivered an original spoken word piece entitled “My Kite, The Dancer” that I put together with Marie-France’s husband Freddie Ravel.

This all began 15 or 18 years ago when I met Freddie. He became my music director, and he was my co-writer on Tomorrow Today. That’s a lot of history, and we got to use it all in writing our Ode to the Dancer, so to speak.

The show was beautiful. There were so many dance pieces, and two guest singers (I was not one of them), Clair  (I forget your last name, I’m sorry, Clair!) and Elisabeth Howard, who both sang brilliantly. Elisabeth is a world-renowned voice teacher. I told her, “Hey, stop holding back! Tell me somethin’!”

After rehearsing several days before the event, we showed up on Saturday night ready to go. Well. I showed up with my knees knocking, but the dancers sure seemed ready to go. I was reading over my script up until moments before I was onstage. I watched the first half of the show on a screen in the Green Room, and then came out and watched the second half from the side of the stage after I performed. They planned it out so that I would go on and sit down in a big comfy chair and read from a book to the audience. My assistant Patrick said, “Like a grandfather by the fireplace.” And that’s right. Grandpa has a story to tell ya! Listen up!

When I started reading, a young 19 year old dancer walked onto the stage in street clothes, and began her stretches. As the poem continues and I speak about the long hours of training and development and growth, she moved offstage and was replaced by Marie-France, who came on and danced brilliantly, interpreting the ebbs and flows of the lyric with precision and power and grace. Oh did I mention: She’s 50 years old. The title of the evening was On Pointe At 50… And Beyond. And she was every bit of that. I overheard some of the dancers backstage talking, saying, “Forget the fact that she’s 50. She’s doing work a 20 year old would be crazy to do. She’s running a marathon out there.”

And she did. It was magical and marvelous, splendiferous and stupendous, wondrous and wonderful, awesome and amazing, great and gratifying, a tremendous triumph. (Patrick and I were coming up with descriptive words on the jet way today.) Marie-France was blazing through costume changes and showing everyone in the audience just what she intended to show with the evening: 50 is not a wall to be climbed, but a launching pad. Look at what is possible at 50 years old!

Thank you, Marie, and Freddie, and everyone involved with the LA Dance Company. What an impressive group of performers they all are. I look forward to their shows going forward.



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