Pro dancer enlists her amateur mom for a high-profile duet (Gabrielle Revlock, Philadelphia City Paper)January 16, 2014
By Julie Zeglen
No, Revlock laughs when asked to confirm that her mom is not a professional dancer. At the very beginning of this process, I did little interviews with people [in the show] and asked them what type of dancer they were, and she said that she was a salsa dancer. My mother has never taken any salsa, so I dont know where thats coming from.
Agard, a horticultural therapist by day, fostered her daughters lifelong enthusiasm for the art form. I always loved dance and took her to a ton of dance performances when she was younger, she says. I took her to The Nutcracker, and she came out knowing all the steps. But she entered the world of contemporary dance herself only two years ago, when Revlock encouraged her to participate in Sylvain Emards massive group dance Le Grand Continental as part of the 2012 Fringe/Live Arts festival. Shes sporadically appeared in her daughters work ever since, both on stage and in video.
I knew that shed be really game, and that she had this uninhibitedness that I think is lovely; I wanted to work with that, says Revlock, who is known in the Philadelphia dance scene for her quirky dance style and incorporation of humor into her pieces. I get sick of my own gracefulness sometimes; I want to just be irregular. She can do that, I have a hard time doing that. Also, because shes my mom, she lets me drag her around the stage and sit on her. She laughs. Maybe with other people theres some of that awkwardness of, Do you mind if I stand on you? But I can just do that to my mom!
The mother-daughter duet is the second in the show. As the previous sections music fades and Revlock lies on the ground with Holt gyrating over her, Agard emerges from stage left, a bundle of broom handles in hand. She drops them, and Holt steps aside. For the next six minutes, Agard and Revlock engage in a partly synchronized series of steps ranging from jazzy jumps to morose floor rolls. At one point, another dancer emerges and attempts to drag Agard off of the stage, and Revlock drags her back, then takes a seat on her mothers knees. In a rehearsal about two weeks before the shows opening, Agard seems to have the moves down pretty well, only hesitating to watch her daughter for direction a few times.
Its clear that Agard is no pro. But being an amateur has its value.
Im sure some people will be horrified by the section, but I hope that some people will actually enjoy watching her make choices, says Revlock. The beauty of her doing things a little bit differently each time, I think, is really interesting.
Acting as protégée to someone who was once your own protégée can make for a strange power shift, though.
Ive been reprimanded a few times, says Agard. When I got on the cell phone when she was giving direction, she didnt like that. Also, she likes things very well-rehearsed. Somebody like me, it takes a lot of going over and going over. Im 62.
Patience is the number one word, says Revlock. I probably had the most rehearsals with her, and were still trying to remember the choreography. And then I realized, thats what this section is. And if she doesnt remember it, fine. In fact, great. All the better. I love seeing her thinking about whats coming next and trying to remember.
Agard, in her own defense, credits herself with at least some of her daughters talent. She says Im a good improviser. And she was always a good improviser. Maybe she got that from me.
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