By Marcy Morrison Pearce
Editor's note: Islander Marcy Morrison Pearce is performing with Alameda's Dance/10 in London during the Olympics and is also visiting extended family in England.
Do you live the way you dance, or do you dance the way you live? After a mere five years studying the sport/art of dance, the question baffles me. All I observe is that the big dancers, the ones that fill a stage with their presence, can be a small as 5'1 and 110 pounds or so. Is it the natural expression of one who has a larger than life personality to command a stage with energy and largesse? Or does life become bigger, grander, as a dancer stretches her arms longer, picks up her legs higher and takes up more space on the stage of the theater and the stage of life?
Such philosophical queries I will have to pose to our Dance/10 director, Pamm Drake. One thing I’ve learned about dance … it’s as much about the heart as it is about the legs.
Today, it was as much about the view as it was about the performance. It was our first show here in England, on the Island Gardens stage in Greenwich. There were no seats for the audience, which numbered probably only around 50. The wind blew, the rain sputtered. And we danced our hearts out.
Have you ever had a “What am I doing here?" moment? Last one I had, I was in tap shoes, dressed like a Douglas fir prepped to dance down Broadway in NYC. Yesterday, I had one again. Beautifully centered, looking out from the stage, we had a picture postcard view of the majestic towers of the Old Royal Naval College across the Thames, with a glimpse straight ahead of the packed stands from the Olympic equestrian events.
Performing in such a place of history, honor and grandeur, you rise. Choreographed by Pamm and Assistant Director Ryan Justus, we put on a show of Americana. We started with '50s rock, "Rock Around the Clock"; moved into American jazz with “It Don’t Mean a Thing"; did a yee-hah inducing country section with shiny red, white and blue cowboy hats that we all managed to keep on our heads despite the wind; and then ended with a patriot theme, a lyrical dance to “God Bless America” featuring one of our dancers, Andrea, who performs sign language as the others dance.
I guess sign language isn’t considered a dance, but Andrea makes it one and steals the show on this one. The team stood there with dewy eyes and lumps in our throats as we watched every single time she rehearsed.
We ended with a slightly hip hop version of "Yankee Doodle." This is probably the song that means the most to me … can you imagine the thrill of dancing a song my dog is named after on a stage in the homeland of family and ancestors?
So today, it’s onward to our next performance venue: Warwick Castle in the Cotswolds, where I’m sure the performance will be as good and the view just as moving.