You grew up on a dairy farm in Northern Vermont? How did you journey from wanting to breed the perfect dairy cow to finding inspiration and lifelong passion in dance?
Well basically, the key word is passion.
My father’s passion was to create the perfect Holstein Friesian (diary cow). He was into breeding, but he was also a passionate person to the point where, if there were a sick cow on the farm he would pull me out of school. So I was groomed by my father to be a breeder. He was very interested in me being a veterinarian.
Life is filled with surprises, and even if they’re negative ones you try to turn them alchemically into positive experiences. My father, who I was very close to, committed suicide when I was 12 years old and suddenly that dream of creating the perfect Holstein Friesian was suddenly up in smoke.
Why did it go up in smoke, didn’t you want to continue your father’s dream?
No, my mother thought it was best to go out on a glacier and ski with the Austrian ski team and learn how to be a downhill racer, so from wanting to be a veterinarian and a breeder of Holsteins, I moved to my next passion, which was to become a downhill racer.
I went to Dartmouth college to study with the US Olympic ski coach, but on the second day I broke my leg, so I left the ski team and took a dance class to recuperate. I never would have taken a dance class if I hadn’t broken my leg. I felt that my dance instructor was much more attractive than my ski coach and we began to try to put, let’s say, an aesthetic onto the athletic… You better go with the flow if you want to go further. I take that process right into the dance studio where I try to reveal the magic that’s already there, it’s just hidden under our nose.
I didn’t just become a ballet dancer and study Balanchine, I was interested in making my own show, my own physical visual theatre which was Pilobolus in the early days and then onto Momix. In a way, it was actually a continuation of a physical life that I lead.