Dancing together, moving apart
It’s swan-song time for Santa Fe’s tiniest dance company. Two Women Dancing, aka Julie Brette Adams and Kate Eberle, offers its fifth and final season this weekend and next at Santa Fe Playhouse.
“Life is fluid,” Eberle said during an interview with both dancers that included an in-studio performance of several works they will be presenting. “I like to change. I have this penchant for reinvention. Producing dance concerts is no longer what I want to do.”
“It’s a loss for me,” said Adams. “I feel sadness. It reminds me that everything changes, everything is a process.”
With a clear ending in sight, however, the choreographers say that the act of creating their last season has yielded riches. “This is our best concert,” Eberle said, and Adams agreed: “We’re performing at our peaks. We’ve grown technically, and we know how to experience movement together.”
They first met in 2002 at Fort Marcy Complex, where Adams was teaching a dance class. Eberle, who had danced professionally in Illinois and New York City before moving to Santa Fe, was working out in the gym. She stuck her head in to see what was going on in the studio. Once the teacher had successfully recruited this new student, Adams, who has a knack for convincing “retired” dancers to get back on the stage, began imagining a collaboration. Adams, trained in ballet, jazz, modern, and African and Latin dance, had been choreographing and producing concerts since moving to Santa Fe in the ’90s. “I’d produced many large-group dance concerts over the years, and I was tired of being the one to coordinate everything,” she said. “My idea with Kate was to do something much simpler. Just two women. Dancing.”
Physically, the women present contrasting types. Adams is small with long dark hair and moves with an easy quickness appropriate to her stature. Eberle is a black belt in tae kwon do and keeps her blond hair cropped short. She is taller than Adams, carves strikingly long lines in space, and has a clear, considered use of her strength.
Eberle refers to the idea of leaving the stage in terms of almost Olympian self-definition: “At 47, I’m working harder than ever, enjoying the extreme physicality of dance. But there is a vein of perfectionism that runs through me. I have to be able to meet my own level of expectation.”
“Young dancers can’t access what we’ve been able to do because of our age and experience,” said Adams, who copped to being in her early 40s.
“Meeting Julie turned my life on end,” said Eberle. She described the collaboration as “staggering.”
There are duets, and then there is collaboration. In creating Yatra, the first piece the two choreographed together, they developed a process they continue to use today, with each dancer bringing in material, and then, as a partnership, finding a way to combine ideas, meld styles, and establish a common ground. What has been unique about their partnership is demonstrated in the way that they have refused to remain static in their methods. They are revising Yatra to present it again, five years later, with different music and the same steps informed by who they are today, as women and as dancers. The original music, by Santa Fe composer John Kennedy, was “like a Bach suite — sweet, playful, friendly,” said Adams. This year, the piece features music by cellist Joan Jeanrenaud with a “different energetic.”
“We had a fair amount of success right at the beginning,” said Adams, “which caused us to reflect, before the second year, ‘What now?’ Clearly, the answers have continued to come for the choreographers. “It’s been a magical collaboration,” Adams continued. “Our connection has deepened. We understand how to work together and access different levels.”
Part of the method of creation for both artists has always been showing the work in process and considering the feedback of peers. “We spend a lot of time making work,” Adams said. “It takes us six months to make a concert.” This involves a minimum of four hours of rehearsal per week at the beginning, leading to many, many more when the concert date approaches.
There have been many guest choreographers over the years. For the piece The Minutes, 16 minute-long musical excerpts were farmed out to 16 choreographers, and the resulting material was stitched together into a final dance. “Very eclectic,” said Eberle. Mentorship is important to the artists. This year, Kiki Jadus, who had been dancing with Eberle and Adams over the years but is new to professional dance making, is guest choreographer.
Eberle and Adams have produced two new works this season: Turn, which reflects the Kate Eberle and Julie Brette Adams; photo by Bill Heckel growing complexity of the two women’s artistic and personal journeys, and Euclid’s Whim, which features the two on a large stainless-steel sculpture. Watching the women manipulate this frame, on which they sit, slide, climb, and hang, offers an opportunity to encapsulate their partnership. Together they create different lines; physically, they offer different approaches to movement; in unison, they represent the power of two hearts and souls coming together to create something new.