The New York Times ran a story a few weeks ago that I can’t seem to get out of my head about a 31 year old young man, Gregg Mozgala, an actor afflicted with cerebral palsy, and choreographer Tamar Rogoff. Neil Genzlinger’s story, Learning His Body, Learning to Dance” coupled with the accompanying video, really moved, and inspired me about the transformational aspects of the body and dance.
Through one-on-one sessions with Mozgala, the two embarked on a small project that flourished into a full dance piece “Diagnosis of a Faun” that premiered in New York just last week and will move on in June to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in DC.
“This is not a cure,” Mozgala says, but it has given the young man a new understanding of his body and transforming communication pathways from his brain. The writer of the piece concludes “But now he doesn’t feel enslaved by it.”
I think what kept drawing me back to the story was a feeling of dissonance: that although it was a piece written for the Dance section of the Times, its focus seemed primarily on the therapeutic science and less on the dance. I would have preferred to hear more from the principals themselves which is why I kept replaying the video… Mozgala moves beautifully, and I would have gotten so much more had the story focused on their collaborative processes. In the rehearsal video, after recounting Mr. Mozgala’s physical limitations, Ms Rogoff says, “we’re able to work around what used to happen to him – and so we just proceed.”
I am thinking that this collaboration has been transformative for both of their work; though the writer suggests, “she has changed his view of himself and of his possibilities” I would have preferred more insight into their art and creation together.
Update: Seek & learn, just found exactly what I was hoping to find: Tamar Rogoff Performance Project. Now to find reactions to the performance…
Another Update: Via the above noted Performance Blog I learned that CBS News ran a piece “Step by Step” on Gregg, Tamar, and the project and that Wendy Perron of Dance Magazine says “Together Rogoff and Mozgala have created a true and powerful Faun.”