By Jaclyn Brown
Energizer can be best defined as an endurance dance and this makes sense given the fact that the choreographer is an endurance athlete. Molissa Fenley had just ran a marathon before she flew in to work with us in the summer of 2015. On top of working with us in the studio every day from 9am-4pm, she also logged in an hour-long morning walk through Memory Grove each morning and would hike the night away through the beautiful Utah mountains during her two-week residency. This was my second year on the company and, as a half-marathon runner myself, I was completely impressed and in awe by this lifestyle and the athletic work she was setting. Originally created in 1980, Energizer came about during a time when formal exercise classes were gaining popularity. As it was explained to me, this work was a play on the question: “How long could a person go at this level of energy?” I believe she answered that question. Coming in at around 45-50 minutes total, Energizer is not for the faint of heart. When I dance it, I’m sure to leave a large water bottle and sweat towel backstage. And I don’t even dance all 3 sections of the piece as she has been doing her entire career!
I have always enjoyed this type of athleticism on stage. It fits my personal aesthetic and beliefs about movement. But this was something new! We aren’t hurling ourselves through the air but instead hop and skip in deceivingly difficult patterns. The first section is full of repetition and spatial patterns with plenty of weaving and variation each time you revisit a phrase. Talk about confusing! In my five years with RDT, this is still one of the most difficult pieces to date in terms of memorization. To clarify my role, I spent hours writing out my part step by step in a notebook. Everything happens in relation to a 13-foot circle on the floor, so I drew out every pathway and interaction with the other dancers. At first I would hold the notebook in my hand as we danced until I eventually discarded it and achieved the structure of the dance in my memory.
This time around, I will be dancing both the first and second section of the dance…leaving the third section to the men of RDT. It will push my endurance and comes at a difficult time during our regular off season. But I welcome the challenge. Can I dance high-energy for 25 minutes straight? The answer is probably no and herein lies the mark of a mature artist. You must choose which moments to highlight while also discovering moments of recuperation within the movement. This adds dynamic bursts of energy to your performance and will be my plan of attack for any future dancing of Energizer.
You have two chances to experience ENERGIZER this spring.
ENERGIZER Master Class
May 18 | 2:00-4:00 pm
Jackie herself will teach students excerpts from this “marathon work”.
ENERGIZER (private event)
May 22 | 6:30 pm
Audience members will see the entire piece for the first time in Salt Lake City, as well as enjoy beverages and appetizers from local businesses. Call 801-534-1000 to learn more.
Jaclyn Brown is a Utah native and proud alumni of Utah Valley University, where she graduated Cum Laude with a BFA in Modern Dance Performance. She currently serves as an Executive Leader of Dance on UVU’s School of the Arts Alumni Chapter and is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer. This is her fifth season with Repertory Dance Theatre.