I was recently invited back to dance with Headwaters Dance Company in Missoula, MT. I danced with this company (then called MoTrans) in 1993-94, the first year the company existed. Amy Ragsdale, the founder and artistic director for 22 years, called it quits by inviting past dancers to return for the current company's final concert. When I received the invitation I didn't hesitate. "YES! I will be there."
When I am asked, "Who is one of the most influential teachers/mentors in your life?" Amy Ragsdale is at the top of my list. She taught me the importance of seeing people, seeing every person. She taught me to do stuff...to not wait for stuff to happen but to DO IT. She taught me that being smart and informed is a good idea and will make me a better artist and dancer than any triple pirouette could ever make me. She taught me that teachers matter and their actions are what teach.
Amy not only invited past members to perform but she also invited us to submit choreography for her to consider resetting on the company. I was honored she chose my piece The day I bathed my mother. I was ecstatic to learn she would be performing in it.
When I arrived in Missoula I was nervous as hell. When I started the music for our first rehearsal I was sick to my stomach. And then...my mentor danced a dance that I made.
I'm back home in Bellingham now...reflecting on this experience. In my mind's eye I can see her performing in The day I bathed my mother. I am not alone in saying that she and Ashley (her partner in the piece) gave us all a gift. They transformed our world for 10 minutes, creating a breathless space to feel. They provided us with an experience that we could step inside of...one in which we could participate. They made this piece, about a mother and a daughter, a piece that even grown men and teenage boys could dive into.