“Nature abhors a virgin - a frozen asset.”
- Clare Boothe Luce

Everything is Melting In Nature

While shooting Jack and I tried not to romanticize the relationship between nature and the female body. The watery world above represents a film idea we were drawn to - perhaps seduced by - but hesitated to include in our film because of its romantic, painterly associations.

I’ve always found unsettling the trope that women are more connected to nature, more “natural” than men. Whoever believes this also tends to associate benevolence and nurturing with the natural world.

For me, nature contains a vast range of qualities, some frightening, most beyond human characterization. Camille Paglia attempts it: “Everything is melting in nature. We think we see objects, but our eyes are slow and partial. An apple tree laden with fruit: how peaceful, how picturesque! But remove the rosy filter of humanism from our gaze and look again. See nature spuming and frothing, its mad spermatic bubbles endlessly spilling out and smashing in an inhuman round of waste, rot, and carnage.”

Jack and I wanted to look at the female body in nature without sentimentality. We crafted an androgyny in our film - a sort of sui generis - while questioning any inclinations toward easy beauty. We sought to integrate the dancers into the landscape without pretending they could merge with it: a delicate balance.


During the 20 years I lived in New York City I craved nature, yet underneath my own awareness. My comings and goings were bounded by Manhattan or Brooklyn; public parks and graveyards hinted at a wilderness beyond the zoo of citylife.

Every winter, I’d raise another rosemary plant on my windowsill suffused by traffic smog and siren sounds. I’d fuss over my scraggly herb, relishing its scent, a reminder of richer terrain.

I did explore imaginary nature - a yearning for its presence and influence - in my dances. I even hoisted a living cherry tree upside down for a week at The Joyce Theater during my 2011 dance, Garden.

Living now in the mountains of North Carolina I find myself exploring my dances in nature, and it’s not a gentle process. The most unsettling part is the vastness, the teemingness of nature, its incredible bounty, its far outstrips any human presence, no matter my yearnings.

I’m grateful to be a witness to nature’s meltings. In a time of such strain on our relationship to each other and the earth, seeing up close how nature thrives offers me a sense that I both matter and don’t matter; and each is a reassuring thought.

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