Circle dancing

ONE night in 1979, a sculpture of mine rolled off my desk. This sparked the creation of Circle Walker. I made a wire sculpture as a working model. It came from line drawings of specific symbols: crosses from my religious faith and circles from my Boy Scout background when we would sing vespers around the campfire. We would make circles that would not close so there would be a place for someone new. In a week I designed a large-scale C.W. In two months I was finished. Two years later, in 1980, I began dancing on Circle Walker while working on my Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture at Indiana University. Deb Knapp, leader of the Windfall Dancers there in Bloomington asked me to perform in their company. Fran Snygg, head of the dance department, guided me through choreography classes. By 1983, I designed four other sculptures: ``Side Winder,'' ``Double Helix,'' ``Wobble Flopper,'' and one nicknamed ``Monster.'' That summer I built the monster and finished my degree.

I worked with the Windfall Dancers for another year, then made tracks to the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., looking for a company who could dance on my sculpture. I heard about Pilobolus and one of the founders of Pilobolus, Moses Pendleton, saw me performing on the grass. He said he would like to work with me.

In October 1984, he flew me and C.W. to his base in Washington, Conn. Julian Lennon was there and I shared the excitement of playing on C.W. with him. Moses wished for me to perform myself in MOMIX, a small offshoot from Pilobolus. MOMIX, directed by Moses, was to perform in California in a week. This was the test to see if I could make the team. The sculpture arrived late in California and was damaged from its air cargo flight. I had only 10 minutes for rehearsal! The first part of the dance was created the week before and the last part was improvised.

All of a sudden the show was over and I realized my heart did not stop on me. I made the team! Jean Paul Darriau, sculptor professor at Indiana University said, ``You shot through the cobwebs and hit the bull's eye.''

The next show was in Japan. For me to go I had to redesign C.W. to travel easier. It now fits in four large oversize guitar-like cases. It always flies with me now.

Still with MOMIX, I've traveled many times throughout Europe, Israel, Canada, Brazil, and around the United States. The peak of my career was a solo performance in the Coliseum in Rome, part of a television special, ``Night of Music'' shown in 56 different countries. Now C.W. has special composed music by Yas Kaz and is made out of stainless steel pipe. I thought it deserved a little class for paying my way around the world.

C.W. weighs in at 160 to 180 pounds. I can pick it up and it can pick me up. It can move me 21 feet in a single move. When I throw my force into it I'm whipped around like a crazy carnival ride.

When I search for new movement I allow myself to be tossed and tumbled like clothes in a dryer. I've learned how to hang on and let go at the right times. DANGER: If steel pipe is forced too much with the human body, guess who wins? Tai chi has taught me to flow with, not against, C.W. We have become completely united in movement and balance.

In one move called ``Head to the Floor Flip,'' my head clears the floor by an inch. Each move has a name: death-man dive, burst, hand-over-hand walk, stomach-to-stomach flip, delight, Vietnam crawl, crucifix; the arabesque is 8 feet off the floor.

When I look back at what I've done, I see all my talents in one bag: playing in the brass band, wrestling, football, pole-vaulting, running, swimming, drawing, designing, and making things myself.

When I really like doing what I'm doing I like to work hard. Thank goodness something makes work easier!

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