Penelope Freeh

Table Work

Posted by on Jan 06 2016, in Uncategorized

To whatever circumstances conspired to lead me here, I am so thankful. I sit in my palatial one-bedroom apartment on the campus of NYU Abu Dhabi and take it all in. I am up early due to lagging jet lag, but it doesn’t matter. I am so happy.


My friend Scott brought me here. He has been commissioned by his company, Theater Mitu, to research and workshop a new dance theater work. I am one of four other dancer hybrids he invited, along with his composer brother Todd who is, literally, a rockstar. Perhaps for the first time the company is leaning toward the dance side of the fence, and for some miraculous reason he thought to bring me in.


Now, Scott and I met when I was thirteen. We danced together in the Dayton Ballet II before he joined the main company. By the time I finished high school, he had moved to New York. I followed just a couple years later, but by then he had established a social and professional circle that was eons different from my own. We stayed in touch only slightly.


Over the next two decades there was no contact until Facebook came along. No matter how much I may disparage FB, it is an amazing tool for connecting with long lost friends and colleagues. He commented a few times on my doings and in that way had a tiny view into my artistic world.


So here we are, working together for the first time since I was a teenager, and the thrill I feel in my stomach is real, visceral to myself. It blows my mind that our disparate paths led us here and into conversations about work and art that are challenging, investigatory and inspiring. Add to that the heady nature of being in freakin’ Abu Dhabi, and I am over the moon.


It is a great relief to not be the one in charge. In recent years I have led some big projects to fruition, and while I am so thankful to be at that level, this scenario is perhaps more recognizable to me, working as cohort and contributor. I feel that my voice is fully heard, and we’re still just doing table work!


I am anxious to get on our feet and I am trepidatious. My hope for myself is that I can bring to bear all my dancer smarts and physical capabilities. I don’t want to operate from a place of trying to prove, but one of quiet confidence and patience. I want to remain an open vessel as well as be unafraid to take creative lead and risks when appropriate.


During sleepless moments (and there are many!) the ideas we discuss by day percolate. This is where I feel the most freedom re: not being the one in charge. I can allow thoughts and ruminations to flow freely, even through my half-awake brain. I don’t have to force anything. There is no deadline.


I hear the pre-sunrise call to prayer and nestle further into this down comforter and too fat pillows. It is now that I remember that I am here, in this strange and wonderful place, displaced in almost every way. I lean upon the comforts of my own integrity that earned me my seat at this table.


  • Peggy Trecker White

    Hi!!! I LOVE reading this!! This was now over 2 years ago, can you believe it!! I wish we were back there or getting ready to go back there, dear friend. Let’s talk soon. xoxoxo Peggy

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