By Aimee Decker ("Prospero" in The Tempest 2016)
I won’t spoil too much for you, but there is a moment in The Tempest where my character levitates. At the climax of her spell, the magic carries her upward. We use a classical ballet lift– an assemblé into a vertical jump. My partner puts his hand on my back to let me know he is there, and then lifts me above his head and carries me forward before returning me safely to the ground.
“The witch flies” is how we captioned the production photo, and we made a number of jokes about “defying gravity.” For me it suspends not only my body in the air but also my disbelief. I was trained as a dancer, and I spent decades trying to push myself beyond my limitations. My body, however, repeatedly reminded me I was human; at some point I quit trying to prove it wrong.
The ballet partnering techniques – the movement, the breath, the rise and fall – all come back in an instant. I told myself I didn’t remember, but there is no way my body could forget how to fly. I have to trust that it is all still in me, everything I need. The easy part is trusting my partner; he has been my rock for three different shows now. He has the unenviable task of making sure our frightfully talented director and I are both stable, which requires supernatural power in and of itself.
So it could only be by this magic that I find myself in a moment of pas de deux in the midst of a chaotic storm. This year has led me back to movement and to so many things I thought I had left behind. And it has also given me gifts I never would have dared to dream of. A partner who will not let me fall. A director who has entrusted me with his vision. A body that remembers and rises to the occasion. Our play is as much about memory as it is about magic. The moment we believe is the moment we take flight.