We’re in the rehearsal studio at DANY, in the process of making Locomotor. We’re hunting down backward traveling patterns throughout space-mythical horses racing backwards on arcing paths that bank around the room. Janine (Antoni) reminds me today that it’s right in cosmic line. We’ve just recently moved into the Year of the Horse.

This traveling backwards story is so physically challenging. My crew is built to hurl forward into the future and I’m pressing them to hurl back, back, get back and it’s against all instincts and orientation. We slowly learn how to know what’s coming backward, how to trust the room falling away in our vision, how to use each other to orient while moving away from and with each other.

There’s nothing like being in the room with the wildly sophisticated animals that are my dancers. I’m standing at the head of the group facing away from them, absorbed in thought that simmers, then suddenly springs action in my body and I’m cast through space in a polyrhythmic rush. The mass of bodies behind surges forward with me like a wave. They try at once to feel my path, catch my drift. Let go to catch me. That’s the private thing between us that few will ever comprehend. We catch rides of unpredictable energy together, then spend hours welding it into the right and repeatable form that it calls out to be.

It’s so emotional to feel the intent and skill of the Olympians behind me rushing with trust and skill to turn the slightest of my musings into liquid steel. When I turn to see and feel their incredible open-hearted willingness to go where ever I might take them, it’s then I realize all over again that I love these dancers who get closer to me then blood.
—Stephen Petronio


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