Havana ended abruptly with a hug from Pontus but no set plans for future work. After some silence and one cancelled visit to Stockholm (mine) to see the premiere of a new Raymonda for The Royal Swedish Ballet (his), I was relieved to find a message from pontus@lidberg in my inbox, inviting me to join his company once again for a brief tour in April followed by a weekend at The Joyce Theater in June. We would bring four dancers to three cities with two dances and one puppet.
Rehearsals resumed in February as I was fighting major burnout: I had just completed my first three weeks of rehearsal with Twyla Tharp and her dancers and had then barreled straight into classes for my final semester as an undergraduate student at Columbia. I taught uptown, danced downtown (at St. Mark’s Church, mostly) and resented what felt like a constant and inefficient commute. I still never said “no” to any and all gigs that came my way, stubbornly scheduling events 30 minutes apart and arriving for nearly every obligation fifteen minutes late and frazzled. Frigid late-winter weather necessitated a large, puffy coat that allowed me to keep my bizarre but efficient wardrobe choices to myself while in transit. And, while I was out—always—the March issue of Dance Magazine had arrived in the mail. There I was on the cover: a “renegade freelance star” wearing my ribbon-less Capezio pointe shoes, a sexy midriff top, and a large hat of teased curls.
For my first day of rehearsals with Pontus, I arrived in my more familiar freelance uniform: sweatpants, thick socks, baggy shirt, and cap-flattened hair. I first greeted my old colleague Christopher Adams. He was already digesting new phrases, and I watched as he spun and dropped gracefully to the floor before bounding quickly to his feet again to give me a hug. I was glad to be in the studio again with Chris, an always thoughtful, positive, and well-paced partner. Pontus would dance with the new kid.
[Enter “new kid:” the young Barton Cowperthwaite. Kaitlyn introduces herself, shakes his hand, and the dancers all gather around Pontus’s laptop, where they watch the choreography they will reconstruct that day. When they have seen the movement only once, Barton gets up to try it; Kaitlyn follows his reflection in Pontus’s computer screen, immediately wary of his enthusiasm. Pontus sees too, and he is impressed. He shows Barton the rest of the phrase. Barton parrots it with ease and finishes with a flourish, adding a goofy body roll, a wink, and a theatrical flip of his long hair. Everyone in the room is laughing, Kaitlyn more reluctantly than the others as she goes to