Over there on my sidebar you'll see a link to A Choreographer's Blog, curated by one Miss Melissa Riker. You might not know it immediately from her 'blog, but Melissa is one of the most positive, infectiously enthusiastic, flirtatious artists I know. I mean, she's got one of the darker quotes about hopefulness from Leonard Cohen at the footer, and most of the entries lately have featured photographs of a prone woman in a ripped wedding gown. Add to that Melissa's penchant for incomplete sentences and/or affection for the creative use of line breaks and you've got yourself one intense-seeming 'blogger. And she is, intense: her 'blog is about her work, the which she takes very, very seriously. It's just that, when you meet Melissa in person, odds are your heart will melt just a little bit at her openness and she will be hugging you before you know exactly what happened. These aspects of her do not stand in contrast to one another. No, they are fully integrated, somehow. Harmonious.
Melissa is, to me, something of a magic trick.
When I wrote of Friend Patrick's 'blog (see 8/5/08) I explained that he and I met on a show called Significant Circus, a show that certainly lived up to its name for me. After all, I also met Melissa there. Actually, we practically met with our fingers mutually entwined in Patrick's hair. From there we have variously performed circus-theatre together (my feet know Melissa very well indeed), leapt about in lofts and parks and even tried to choreograph me in modern dance. And Melissa has been a part of The Exploding Yurts right along with us and Friend Kate, so she's one of these friends who has had a lot of intimate insight into my creative processes. That's a strange intimacy to share. ("Strange Intimacy" would be a really good name for a rock band with Mel as its lead singer.) By and large, the effect Melissa has had on my creative process has been to remind me of the use of spontaneity -- which I tend to shun in favor of more rigid structure -- and the supreme value simply in loving what you are doing. Love takes one a long way in any endeavor, but especially in the more hopeless-seeming ones, like art.
The beauty of A Choreographer's Blog is that one is immediately inside an artist's creative process. There's no safety net, no explicit or intentional censorship, it's just -- thwack! Hi! Welcome to my mind/heart/soul! Which, really, is quite like Melissa herself in performance. It's a very honest, vulnerable place, but you almost don't notice, because its presented without shame or apology in the slightest. That's something most every artist should aspire to, and that Melissa seems to do quite effortlessly. Not that she doesn't work very, very hard; it's just that the part that seems to be hardest for most is her most natural talent. So go to A Choreographer's Blog when you feel isolated, or less than profound. It's a little like discussing a project with Melissa herself. She'll immediately get very excited about what you're talking about, and then share the ideas it gives her, some of which will sound at first to you a little tangential, or unrelated. Then, about three days later, you'll look back on the conversation, chuckle at her joy, and realize she wasn't off in the slightest. She had just gotten to the crux of the emotions much faster than you did.
And so, this award goes to Melissa Riker.