Created in 2009 for two specific dancers, First Love portrays the push and pull of a codependent relationship. The characters control, despise, and passionately love each other. They not only want each other, but need each other to survive. The continual circular movements remind me of dancers in a music box, only these dancers are stuck inside unable to break away from each other or stop the rotation. The tug-of-war goes on and never ends.
Creating First Love was a tedious process because it is almost all partnering with the dancers connected. It was fully work-shopped, meaning that the dancers and I created the entire piece together in the studio. We added each movement individually, determining what we could do next once we had completed our sequence. When a new movement was successful, it became the next step of the dance. When it failed, we took a break and tried something new.
The original dancers of First Love decided to use the piece at a So You Think You Can Dance audition in 2009, where they (and it) received good feedback. The judges hadn’t seen that type of dance before and allowed them to do almost the entire three-minute dance for the audition. Both dancers were kept for the next round of choreography and we were hopeful that the dance might get national exposure through the show.
When the Atlanta auditions premiered, the company gathered together with bated breath hoping we might see First Love on national television. Sadly yet also comically, the only thing we saw was our dancers in the audience, in the same seats, for almost 15 shots.
With its intricate partnering, First Love requires a lot of trust between the dancers. It is still one of our most complicated dances and one of my favorites. The beautiful and tragic music box plays on.