I have been a huge fan of Jane’s work since the first time she pulled me into one of her beautiful choreographic worlds, but I have never had the opportunity to work with her. So, as one could imagine, there were some nerves walking into The Barn for our first rehearsal. Jane sat us down to Check-In and passed a box of words around the circle for us each to draw blindly. In retrospect, I drew the single word that could best sum up this entire experience.

The process was a bit unexpected for me. I expected the challenge as a dancer, but never expected to be challenged on a deeper, more personal level. As we Checked-In and Checked-Out every day, I began to piece together all of these beautiful people who I was dancing with — each one a fully developed character full of complex emotions and strange quirks. Perfectly imperfect people who share the one most important core value of love.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with this performance… Being in a new space, with new people, and for me, performing for an entirely new audience. This was my first experience performing for children, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit, I was more nervous than usual. It wasn’t until the house in Zilkha Hall went dark, and I heard the first round of raucous children’s laughter that it all kind of clicked in my head. Here in front of me was the most generous, honest, and loving audience I would ever have the pleasure of performing for, and for these next six performances, I was going to share my love through the medium I know best: dance.

We wrapped up our journey together at The Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston to a fabulously generous audience, in a beautiful space, surrounded by stunning art. As we said our goodbyes I think I finally really started to understand the healing properties of art. Every person touched my heart in a special way that has taught me what it means to be an artist and a human being. This experience filled my mind with HOPE, my soul with LIGHT, and my heart with the very thing scrawled on that tiny slip of white paper on our first day. LOVE.

Seth McPhail, post “jumping his cruise ship” last year, came and joined Hope Stone Dance for his first season. Lucky us.