Tap Dance Widows Club/ The Baggage Project

by Louise Reichlin


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I'm Louise Reichlin. I am a director choreographer presently living in LA - my works reflect our connection to each other and the world around us. After nearly two years and showings "in progress", "Tap Dance Widows Club" will have its official premier this November. Funds raised here will go directly to paying the dancers.

"Baggage" is composed of multiple dances. I was inspired to create this series after the passing of my husband and partner of 39 years, Alfred Desio, five years ago. My husband’s support and spirit of his vitality has remained with me even though he is no longer physically present. While no two people grieve identically, one commonality of grief is the baggage we carry with us after losing a loved one. This piece focuses on the positive baggage of continuing life after the loss of a loved one while still feeling their presence and influence

The past and present meet for an eclectic celebration of life! Louise Reichlin (me, widow of Alfred Desio), Loretta Zerby (widow of Jon Zerby), and Katherine Hopkins-Nicholas (widow of Fayard Nicholas) met to share memories, photos, and videos of our well-known husbands. Our conversations about moving forward without our husbands' physical presence were both hilarious and moving in their coincidences and differences; this became the audio for "Tap Dance Widows Club" with media also including visual art as well as live dancers. The video clips range from the 20's (early Nicholas Brothers tap dancing and the amazing couple adagio dancing of the time) through this century, as all three men danced almost until they died – Desio at 72, and Nicholas & Zerby at 91. The photos also evoke early Hollywood and Broadway from a personal viewpoint. The music as well spans almost a century including Desio's electronic tap invention Tap-Tronics(tm). The audiences that saw the work in progress last year were pulled into the piece, and at the discussion with the artists after each performance, they had additional ideas of what they hoped we might add to the piece.

Since the loss of my husband, I have become aware that perhaps half of our culture shares this kind of presence after their personal losses, although death and this common bond are rarely mentioned. One of my goals for this piece is to encourage the audience to think about how their lost loved one has enhanced their life and changed their outlooks and perceptions.

Even shown "in progress" last season, this video/ live dance/ visual artwork from "The Baggage Series" evoked seriously wonderful praise. The additional funding would allow us to add additional live dances (dancer rehearsal and performance pay) and fine-tune the 50' video, leading toward an official premiere at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica in November 16-18, 2012 .It is crucial that you each contribute to help us reach our goal of $5,000. We must reach this amount or cannot access the funds. Thank you so much for watching the video and reading this, and to all donating to help this premier and future performances happen.

 More about the project, begun and shown in progress 2011 - past, present, future:

-"Woman Sleeping" (1981, revived 2011) - A revival of my 1981 work, and I realized the piece was my own journey experiencing great loss before it even happened, and that the revival was appropriate for the project. Here is a video link with excerpts from 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGRMHmOEJ-s&feature=share&list=UUGA2fZaJzMtYwhUSUsS5VZw

"Mourning Light" (2011) - The first of the new works for The Baggage Project. It was much more abstract than "Woman Sleeping", and had 6 dancers, 5 of which were not really there, existing only in the memory of the man in blue. Audri Phillips, digital artist, added the media for this.

"Remembrance" (revived 2011 with media) - The solo was also revived for the project. A facebook project page helped collect submissions from those who had loved ones who had passed. We incorporated them into projected media that went with the dance, helping many share the experience of Remembrance. A private link to the visual component: http://youtu.be/yEL9cV2qN84 The digital artist is Audri Phillips.

"Tap Dance Widows Club" - official premier November 16-18, 2012. Excerpts in video above.

"untitled" - Next in the project: I saw Charlie Rose's 2011 interview with Patti Smith about her early relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe and how their mutual support for each other and their work helped their individual growth as artists; it resonated with me, not only because of the mutual art support but also because of the period of New York in the late 60's. Her book "Just Kids" would be a base in this part of the project, with a first peek in the November Miles concert.

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