Danza Duende Network
This is how I remember my meeting with Jack Niland.
The whole story is a fairy tail and as such, it took place in quite difficult circumstances for both of us. But first we need to roll up in time, because the story starts in 1977.
I was 16 years old and I was living in the streets of Paris. Not exactly sleeping in the streets because with my crazy and violent boyfriend, we were “buskers”, singing, dancing and playing guitar in the metro for our livelihood. We made each day just enough to pay for a cheap hotel room and for food. I used to be a professional dancer before that when I was 13 years old in a Russian dance company; but at some point, I left home with that bad guy much older than me.
One day, in our aimless wandering around the streets of Paris, I bought a book among many different pocket editions in promotion for only 1 franc on the table of a book shop. That choice changed my life forever: It was Cutting through spiritual materialism by Chogyam Trungpa.
Rome 15th March 2014 at Casa delle Culture Roma
Photos by ©Elio Castoria
Having been raised in USA, English is my first language. I was only 3 years old when my mother used to bring me with her to concerts, theatre and movies. We lived in Detroit Michigan. My mother would have rather become an artist than a lonely mother at the young age of 18, so she always encouraged me to dance. That very soon became my only obsession. For me, to dance all the time, I mean literally all the time, was the only way to feel close with some mysterious quest which I knew since childhood to be the reason why I was on this earth. I just had no idea at the time what that quest was about; and the world, from the perspective of TV and grown-up people, seemed to me some rare place to live in.
Dance made me feel I could understand the message of this mystery within me.
We came to France; and quickly at the age 13, I became a professional dancer in the Ballet Russe Irina Grjebina. But the professional life of most artists is not that romantic: and I felt very soon that my inner voice was not reciprocated by living this kind of life.
I left home and school and dance for a lover. I lived on the streets for 3 years. That was not the path either, but it gave me a perspective of “nowness”.