Santa Barbara Dance Theater; Photo by Brandon Whited
Santa Barbara Dance Theater; Photo by Brandon Whited

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The Dance Enthusiast's Social Distance Dance Video Series: Mark DeGarmo Dance Shares Moveable Moments and...

The Dance Enthusiast's Social Distance Dance Video Series: Mark DeGarmo Dance Shares Moveable Moments and...
Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
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Published on April 21, 2020

How He Creatively Copes with #shelteringinplace

Moveable Moments is a series of short improvisations performed by dancer, choreographer, and improvisational composer Mark DeGarmo which are filmed and shared in monthly installments on Mark DeGarmo Dance’s social media channels on FB and Instagram. In  DeGarmo Dance’s “Moveable Moments” inaugural 12-month 2019 series, DeGarmo focused on responding to New York City’s exterior and interior spaces using transcultural transdisciplinary performative movement improvisation.

The 2020 series’ monthly focus on “body parts” comes from DeGarmo’s lifetime use of a dance arts toolbox for choreography, teaching, performance, training, and improvisational composition.


Christine Jowers for The Dance Enthusiast:  How are you? How is your family? And how are you handling staying at home?

 

Mark DeGarmo: I would never have imagined that these simple questions would be so complicated to answer.

How am I? How are we?

I am fortunate to have been able to relocate for the duration from my husband's and my East Village 5th floor walk-up of 44 years and my organization’s multi-purposed office, archives, and studio theater at The Clemente Soto Vélez Center where I celebrate 19 years.

I am sheltering-in-place at home in the rural Mid-Hudson Valley, 5 miles across a town and county line from my hometown, Pine Plains, NY.  April 17th marks one month since I arrived with our 2 brother cats. My soul has ached for the rural countryside, farmland, and open spaces that grace this area. My longing to “become a dancer and choreographer” brought me to New York as an 18-year-old in 1974. I left home in 1969 at 13 for a college preparatory boarding school 125 miles northeast in Massachusetts near the Vermont/New Hampshire border. I realized I’m a country mouse at heart. 

I am experiencing a font of old trauma, loss, and fear. I cry at least once a day, to be real. It’s an embodied release for which I am grateful.

I am fortunate and grateful that I am working daily with my team and 7 days a week. We are broadcasting Mark DeGarmo Dance’s Virtual Dance for Dance 2020, The Dance Party of the Year on Thursday April 30th at 6:30 PM ET (US) to energetically clasp hands and dance together across the Earth and its 24 time zones.

I am grateful that I am well and able to work and mentor while so many others, sadly, are not.

My husband is in Mexico City. Fortunately, we have a long history, and he is safe and well sheltering at Tlacopac International Artist Residency he created in visual artist Annette Nancarrow’s historic internationally significant home.  All other family are well.

I am an introvert at heart which fuels my writing, love of staying at home, and conversely, a silly performativity. I can erupt in spontaneous performative improvisational madness. I find it healing.

I am a do-it-yourself project person. My memoir is one of several writing projects-in-process. There are umpteen longstanding household, outdoor, and garden chores taunting me. Reading more, and in French and Spanish, is also teasing me as I currently ignore and delay its pleasurable possibilities. 

One day I called a baker’s dozen people.

Practicing gratitude and exercise are calming. I trust that my solo studio practice will come. My friend singer-songwriter Chris Riffle wants to work on our projects. I am finding a lot to do and want to ensure time for reverie. 


 

The Dance Enthusiast: How are you communicating with friends /family and those not in your home? 

 

MDG: I discovered Zoom! I love seeing people out there in real time. I had a 3-hour cocktail party on Zoom with my husband in Mexico City and my oldest friend, an oncologist and his wife, a mindful awareness practitioner in Northampton, Mass.

I call and receive calls and texts via cell phone. I peruse and post on Facebook. While walking, I occasionally pass a neighbor to greet at a more than 6-foot, even 18-foot distance. I throw telepathic threads to loved ones globally and for the common good. I speak with my husband every day. 


The Dance Enthusiast: What are you doing about "moving" and "nutrition" at home?   How do you stay in physical, mental, spiritual shape? 

 

MGD: I am studying 6 days a week via Zoom with Ernesta Corvino and her outstanding classical ballet methodology. It is my mini-sabbatical I am cherishing. For me, her work engages all 3: physical, mental, and spiritual.

I also walk a daily 4.6 mile loop up a heartbreak hill with equal views of the Catskills and Taconic Mountains on the eastern lip of the Hudson Valley.

My COVID environment relief goals include: daily meditation; journal writing; aerobic, resistance, and stretching exercises; yoga and restoratives; 3 different PT regimens; and improvisational composition in nature. It is easy to get glued to the screen(s).

I am not much hungry. I try to keep up with frozen vegetables. I will explore some recipes, for sure. I can live on pasta, have frozen food from previous summers, and a nearby farm store for raw milk, cheese, butter, eggs, and pie.


The Dance Enthusiast:  What keeps your spirit up right now?

 

MDG: I am envisioning our global community with compassion. 

My loved ones are living their best lives in the sense of service. Two of my 4 DeGarmo-Smith siblings are RNs working with patients, including people with COVID-19. I have many friends and family on the front lines.

I just learned of a trans friend, an MD who suffered death threats against him by co-workers that have calmed down. However, he doctors without protective gear in highest-risk settings. Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily reports offer grounding in facts; and leadership’s true purposes: to guide a course, to provide hope; calm fears; and build understanding, cooperation, and common purpose. 

Their service fills me with hope and gratitude for the love surrounding and lifting me, them, and us. The hope for seeing The Promised Land, for rejoicing in social justice with my sisters and brothers is my balm.


The Dance Enthusiast:  What would you like to say to your colleagues, your audiences,  and our readers?

 

MDG: Keep the faith. Stay the course. We are in this darkness together. Reach out to one another with love and compassion. Pray and meditate. Live our best lives now. Go toward the Light. Vote Blue 2020.


 

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