Professor Lilly was in residency at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, January 5 through 11, re-setting her work Requiem (2012) on the Milwaukee-based Danceworks Performance Company. Below, Lilly shares her thoughts about the work; Ed–her colleague and mentor; and making dances–something she does with students every semester in various capacities.
When I re-staged the work in Milwaukee in January 2015, I was working with 16 dancers who had been influenced directly by Ed. Dani Kuepper, now the Artistic Director of the Milwaukee-based professional contemporary dance company Danceworks, was one of the first dancers I met at UWM when I interviewed for the position in 1994. She remains a breathtaking dancer; a physical powerhouse and yet vulnerable at the same time. Another dancer, Joe Pikalek came to the department soon after in 1996. A classic surfer dude with nose piercings and tattoos, he was one of my son’s babysitters (much better dancer than babysitter by the way–Jimmy, my son was always escaping from him). Other Danceworks company and guest dancers spanned the years up until those who had graduated in 2012.
For me defusing the potential emotionality of making a piece that celebrated Ed and his love of dance and dancers, and working again with our former students brings up the question for me of why do we make dances anyway? Of course there is no one answer to this question, but the process of inquiry, exploration and following all of the detours of curiosity remain the reasons that the field of choreography still compels me to enter the studio, take a look around and say to the dancers “how about we try this….”