Every day begins with the Transcendental Meditation Programtm early in the morning before anyone else has risen-something she learned 6 years ago and has integrated into her life. The quiet then gives way to stretches–yoga asanas, situps-poses only a dancer could manage which maintain a strong, supple body. By this time the other children are roused and breakfast and school become the priorities. Four daughters, three schools, a baby sitter for the baby, a husband to his office- all are set in their appropriate directions until quiet settles again in the house to allow for time to think and work. This morning it is recording the accounts of over 100 students who are taking anywhere from 1 to 5 classes a week in Fairfield Ballet. Accounts settled, board members arrive to discuss decisions about Dance Theatre of Iowa.
Emma Lamoureux is Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer for this company she founded in 1994 (her third). This year she is directing and choreographing a dance theatre production which is a futuristic vision based on the classic Peter Pan story to be premiered in February at the Washington Community Theater. It is her most ambitious project yet, including the work she did with Island Moving Company, her dance company that she founded with Michael Thomas, former soloist with the San Francisco Ballet. It is more ambitious than her full scale children ballet, "The Snow Queen", which she produced through her Children's Dance Theatre' and televised on Public Television in Rhode Island with Joanne Woodward as the narrator of the story.
This production, "Pan the Avenger in Cybernation" is set in the future in a techno-centric world restored to balance by Pan, the last natural boy. It involves over 50 children, 10 actors, 15 dancers, original music by composer Paul Fauerso, original sets and costumes by artist Lynne Marshall, technical effects, and flying sequences by Foy Enterprises.
The Board of Dance Theatre of Iowa brings questions: How do we adjust the budget to pay another technical person? Will the rehearsal schedule go through the holidays? The composer wants to know which dance sequences have to be completed first. Are the contracts ready? Can the studio be used for the photo shoot? Has she cast the role of the Mother? Do the Found Boys have to take the boy's dance class? Can mothers volunteer and waive the costume fee? Will she choreograph a piece for the opening of the new library? How many lecture demonstrations for public schools can she manage each month?
Answers come easily. Emma Lamoureux grew up in a military household, moving every year. She learned to know what was important and how to act on that knowledge. Her life as a professional dancer and choreographer taught her about using discipline to create art, to make her work reflect her inner creative dynamics. She never wastes resources: time, money, energy, especially time which is her most precious commodity.
The board leaves, the family comes home for lunch. It is usually simple-vegetables, grains, fruits. Paris, aged 1 and Gabrielle aged 3 crawl over her after they have eaten. It is a possessive gesture on their parts, laying claim to the mother they know is also claimed by others. The older girls lift the babies off of their mother to give her a chance to eat, holding them over their young hips which are swung out to give a shelf for the babies to rest on. All too soon Johannah, aged 10 and Jhodessa, aged 15 must leave to return to school. Peter goes back to his office and the babies go to sleep for their afternoon nap.
This is her favourite part of the day, the machine answers the phone, the accounting is done, decisions are made and the babies are asleep. She is free. Imagination invades her quiet living room. She absentmindedly glides across the bare wood floors as she envisions the underwater ballet. The mantarays slide across the lagoon bottom and the starfish sparkle off of each other, the seahorses gallop as they try to outrun the octopus. The mermaids dive in and out of the water as the crabs skitter about the shore. I need more music, she thinks, the mermaid's waltz needs to be recapitulated. She makes a note to call Paul. Time pulls its trick of passing more quickly when creativity is lively. The baby sitter arrives indicating it is time to go to the studio and teach.
It is fulfilling to go to the new studio, renovated lovingly by her own hands: suspended wood floors layed over 2 by 4s underlayed with 2" foam cubes placed every 6 " to provide the perfect give for a dance floor, 20 foot ceilings crowned by hammered tin and 8 foot windows letting the light in. Three classes back to back, beginning ballet for 6-9 year olds, intermediate ballet for 10-15 year olds, pointe for the advanced students; every day is like this with slight variations, 4-6 hours of teaching 6 days a week. The faces of the children are her reward- so expectant and happy. "Miss Emma", they cry, "will we pirouette today?"
A breather after the last class to kiss the babies goodnight and help Johannah with her homework. Thank heaven the studio is so close to home and thank heaven Jhodessa is her most advanced student- even though she knows at some point her beautiful eldest daughter must leave to study with another teacher to prepare her for her own professional career as a dancer. Emma's teachers, Ursula Melta of the Ballet de Jeune, Robert Vickory of the Connecticut Ballet, and Michael Thomas of the San Francisco Ballet always knew she would have a vibrant career in dance. No one could have known that she would also have four daughters and move to southeast Iowa. Those are the vicissitudes of fate that create contrasts and structure dimensions. Emma feeds on change and uses it to fuel her creative expressions. She teaches children wherever she goes and brings the artistic experience to them, in their terms, on their level but always with integrity, always with that life enhancing excitement.
Rehearsal begins with the Pirotechs warming up. Only two of the seven men are professional dancers. The choreography is suited to their situation. She turns the music on- it moves her. Inspiration always comes from the music. It speaks to her, it tells her where to move, The men stretch and jump. She guides them- more humour here, more interaction there, wait for the rhythm, don't be afraid, "Give me more expression!"
The night, just before sleep finds her lying in bed next to her husband in quiet conversation: Gabrielle needs one more day of preschool, Paris likes this baby sitter better than that one, get the legal work done, can you believe that interest rate, the pumpkins are coming up beautifully, mother's health seems a little better, drop the lawsuit, the sets are turning out fantastic. The soft wind sends a small rattle through the window pane and the long day ends, a prelude to the next, equally demanding and equally fulfilling.
© Josie Fauerso 1995