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The Duality of Motherhood

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

Does it seem like everything I am doing lately revolves around motherhood? Well, perhaps it does. Artist's tend to draw inspiration from their lives and motherhood tends to be a pretty overpowering force.

This piece was choreographed by Jessica Zoller - who I am performing with in the video. Her daughter is just a few months older than mine and we are both dancers and working moms.

The process for this piece was heavily influenced by the amount of time we had to prepare. Jess applied in December to be part of a group show that would occur in March. She was one of the chosen choreographers, but it turned out we each had other shows in late January and early February so we didn't get to start rehearsing until late February for a March 9th show. The show was called A Taste of Dance: a Dance/Wine Pairing. It was a coordinated cross-promotional show between a dance venue and a sommelier (wine maker), and was sponsored by the city of Milwaukie, OR. Each choreographer said a little bit about their work and the sommelier said a little bit about the wine he had chosen to go with it.

This video is from the second time we performed the piece at a different event, which happened to occur on Mother's Day. It was a show featuring 12 different artists each showing a work-in-progress.

For the Dance/Wine Pairing we only had about four, two-hour rehearsals to create the piece. Jess taught me most of the choreography except for an improvised solo I do from about 2:30 - 4:00 minutes. Her inspiration for the choreography was the duality of motherhood. There are times when time speeds up, like the chaos of daily activities, in contrast to those moments when time slows down, like when your baby is completely focused on learning to crawl, innocent baby yawns or the peace that arrives after bedtime.

Some of the images are more gestural and you might recognize them if you're looking - crawling, wiping the counter, picking up toys, lifting baby legs during a diaper change. Others we came up with that are more personal. For example: at 4:00 minutes in the video, when the music changes and the humming starts, I put one hand to my belly and the other cupped against my chest. This position represents the very first moment Coral was placed into my hands after her birth. I had just had her in my belly and as soon as she came out they laid her on my chest and put her little bottom in my hand. It is a moment I will never forget as a mother and Jess wanted to use the image to help me connect with that feeling.

Jess also wanted to represent this duality both in the movement as well as in the use of space. The entire piece happens on two perpendicular lines. One goes across the back of the stage and is the line Jess is following at the beginning. The other line goes front to back and is where I begin. At various points we switch back and forth between which pathway we are on.

I want to take a moment here to note that while this is how the piece was created, there is no expectation for the audience to know any of this or figure it out while watching. I do think many audience members would appreciate knowing this level of detail, but that choice is up to the artist. I also think that not feeding the audience a narrative can end up being more powerful as it makes you feel something. Our modern world puts so much emphasis on the brain, but our physical emotions, experiences, and feelings have a lot to teach us too!

I hope you enjoy.

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