SPEAK By Jenny McAllister

By Jenny McCallister

November 1, 2008, PUBLISHED BY IN DANCE

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had an insatiable hunger for stories. You might even classify it as an addiction. I will ravenously consume any kind of narrative, tearing through it until the bitter end – book, movie, play, TV, cereal box – anything. If it includes one or more of the following (in no particular order) blood, side-splitting humor, mystery, trailer parks or dark castles/woods I am so there. Until 3am, or next week, or however long it takes me to finish. I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop. I have to know how it ends.

Upon discovering there was no known cure for this particular problem, I started making up my own stories. Moving up from small-time taker to big-time dealer was harder than I thought. Ironically, I found myself impatient with words. Working as a choreographer, I quickly discovered that one silent movement – a quick gesture, a sly look to the side, a dipping of the head – can tell an entire tale in about one second. A character is instantly established, then unraveled with the next move. Fascinating. I went to the next level, started secretly mixing stories. Taking a bit of fairy-tale, cutting in a dash of horror, a giant blob of humor. Yum.

And then, the final piece of the puzzle – the lovely, painful, sensual flesh that moves and lives and becomes the story. No paper, no pen, no computer – I have an amazing company of dancers who physically inhabit the characters I give them with complete abandon. They bring my stories to life. They have no fear, they tear into their characters as fast as I can hand them out. I’ve heard the same substance distributed to a group of people will affect each one in a completely unique manner. I tell you, this is true, true, true. If you don’t believe it, come to my rehearsal sometime. Or, come see the show I’m working on now, Lucky 13.

Lucky 13 is a series of short stories. Stories about how opposites attract, how an unlucky turn can turn into your lucky day or visa versa. A wedding bleeds into a funeral; A sinister present arrives on a snowy Christmas Eve; Werewolves fall in love, penguins long to fly, and cell phones are adored and discarded with reckless abandon. Come lose yourself for an hour or so, because ultimately, that’s what stories are all about.

Lately my addiction/compulsion has found a whole new outlet, as I experienced my own little fairy-tale come to life. I woke up one day in a whole other story – I’m a wife, and now mother of two small children. I get to read them stories every night, and the sharing continues. Of course I don’t introduce them to the hard stuff, they’ll figure that out on their own when they’re teenagers. The experts say addiction is genetic. In this case, I certainly hope so.

This article appeared in the November 2008 issue of In Dance.