Full Circle Dance Company is celebrating its 15th anniversary. Tell us about its origins.
We started in 2000 as an outgrowth of the Morton Street Dance Center, which is a school here in Baltimore that I co-founded and run. Full Circle was founded initially because we had such talented teachers who were not performing but wanted to. And we’ve attracted other folks who have moved to town and looked for that professional dance outlet.
The anniversary show on October 3 will feature a piece themed around breast cancer called 328-HOPE.
That is the phone number for the Baltimore City Cancer Program that screens uninsured and underinsured women. We will provide the proceeds to the program.
Full Circle performances are often built around a theme, but why breast cancer?
We thought about a number of things—domestic violence was one that I was beginning to settle on when one of the dancers said, ‘I have something even more personal.’ I said, ‘What’s that?’ And she said, ‘Breast cancer.’ I took a deep breath and I said, ‘I’ll do it.’ I had breast cancer two years ago, and I’ve got to tell you, I thought all of these concerts were personal—we’ve talked about religion, we’ve talked about race, we’ve talked about the unconscious mind—but this one is different. Many of the dancers and myself spent some time with women who are in the breast cancer support program of the BCCP. I put out the question and simply said, ‘Tell me what your experience has been?’ and I will tell you a little bit of mine, and we just let them go from there.
I was very blessed with a cancer that was discovered very, very early. So my journey is not the journey of some, but I know what mine was, and it’s something I still think about every day. So I can only hear, listen, and imagine what that experience is like for someone who went through the entire panoply of care needed to survive. And it does make you think about your mortality in ways that you probably never did. It makes you very sensitive to each and every ache and pain. I feel such a responsibility to honor these women.
How do you translate personal experiences into movement?
I was thinking about the volume of information and how fast that comes and the decisions you have to make and I began to think, ‘How do I translate that into movement?’ And then there are certain procedures that one goes through. I did radiation therapy, and every day I laid on a table in a certain way, so that became movement to me. And then, when we talked to the women about their stories, one of them said, ‘I just wanted to run away but whatever I did, it followed me.’ So that’s movement in my mind. Or they talked about their strength. Or they talked about support from somebody else. So I used my own experience, but probably even more so, the words, the phrases, the concepts of the other women.
What do you hope people take from the performance?
I hope that, certainly, there’s power in our message about breast cancer and that they’ve been touched by the stories that we’re looking to tell. But I hope they walk away from an evening filled with dance that they’ve enjoyed aesthetically, and they’ve enjoyed the meaning of each piece. So I hope they’re able to follow all that and understand the place that dance has in people’s lives and how beautifully it can communicate meaning and can cross boundaries about things people may need to address or consider about others.