Caitlin Negron, who is set to retire after ten years of dancing with Dance Kaleidoscope, and Timothy June, whose tenure with Indiana’s premier contemporary dance company also spans a decade, have more than dance in common. They both have leading roles opposite each other, as the bride and husbandman in Dance Kaleidoscope’s production of Martha’s Graham‘s revered “Appalachian Spring,” with music by Aaron Copland. The concert will be presented on the OneAmerica Stage at Indiana Repertory Theatre, May 31 to June 3. The program will also include two pieces by guest choreographers, André Megerdichian’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” set to Benny Goodman’s tune of the same title and “Taking Watch,” a piece created for DK by Stephanie Martinez.
This momentous DK production of Graham’s renowned masterpiece is especially significant considering the company’s artistic director David Hochoy was a dancer and rehearsal director for Graham’s New York City-based company. Providing the DK interpretation with further gravitas are the sets and costumes from the Martha Graham Dance Company. As far as the piece itself, there is no better description than that expressed by Graham who said, “It’s spring. There is a house that has not been completed. The bar poles are up. The fence has not been completed. Only a marriage has been celebrated. It is essentially the coming of new life. It has to do with growing things. Spring is the loveliest and the saddest time of the year.”
Hoping to receive insight about the piece, I reached out to both Negron and June by phone about their respective roles in “Appalachian Spring” and also to simply catch up. I am a fan of both dancers, having seen a majority of June and Negron’s work during my years covering DK.
As far as their backgrounds, Negron is a native of Fort Wayne (during the interview, we discovered that we share the same hometown) and began her dance training at Fort Wayne Ballet. She continued her studies at Southern Methodist University and graduated summa cum laude with degrees in dance performance and anthropology. Other training includes the Martha Graham School, Thodos Dance Chicago, American Ballet Theatre and Richmond Ballet. Negron is a co-founder and currently serves as the executive director of Indy Convergence, a non-profit organization that cultivates interdisciplinary projects and utilizes artists in community development. June is originally from Enfield, Connecticut. His dance training began at New England Dance Conservatory. June continued studies at Miami City Ballet, Boston Ballet, Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg State Conservatory in Russia, Martha Graham School and Butler University, where he received his BFA in Dance Performance. What else Negron and June share in common is they both met their husbands, Robert and John, respectively, at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where DK once spent summers performing and where their spouses were both members of the acting company.
When asked why she was retiring Negron said, “It’s the right time. I think when you get into dancing, you always know, as a performer, you are not always going to do it. During their late 30s, it is not unusual for dancers to think about leaving. For me, I feel like I have had ten wonderful seasons with DK. I feel fulfilled by the work I have been able to do and the opportunities that David has given me.”
Though Negron, who currently teaches Pilates, says she may still work as a dancer on projects here and there, her days as a full-time dancer are finished. In the meantime, she said she plans to devote herself primarily to Indy Convergence, which she co-founded with her husband Robert. “Indy Convergence has really taken off in a wonderful way. I want to dedicate more time to that and it will demand a lot more of my attention. I’ll be stepping into an administrative or executive role, managing day-to-day operations, scheduling and booking our space for rentals, for individuals and shows, doing more grant proposal writing and learning more and more,” said Negron.
Regarding “Appalachian Spring” itself, Negron said, “It’s one of Martha Graham’s masterpieces and one of her most well-known works. It’s been around so long, but also the music is so beautiful and recognizable. I am really lucky. I get to do the role of the bride, which Graham choreographed for herself in 1944, so it is really neat to do not just the steps she created, but the steps she created for herself. It feels very full circle for me. I had the chance to study Graham and saw a video of “Appalachian Spring.” I remember thinking, “Oh my, if I could dance that part, I would feel really complete. So it feels really special that in my last season, I get to do that role. It is also important for DK to do this since we train in Graham three times a week and since David worked so closely with Graham. It is just so special for us to get to do one of her pieces here in Indy.”
June, who also teaches Pilates, said that for now, he’s staying put with DK. “I am very satisfied. I have been given lots of opportunities to dance leading roles with the company. I have no regrets staying with DK for ten seasons. Knock on wood, my body feels good. Outside the normal aches and pains of being a professional dancer and having your body upset with you every time you move, which is normal, I am not complaining. I don’t have any plans for retirement right now,” June emphasized.
When asked what he plans to bring to the role of husbandman, June said, “Personally, I feel my character is boring. Historically, the character is stoic because he has to be this manly character that doesn’t have emotions. He has to be the one the bride works off of. He is strong and gives her more to be dramatic about. He doesn’t have a lot of depth. I am trying to make my own story about this character. I am going to give him a little bit more humanity, a little more love,” answered June.
And what can audiences expect when they see DK’s version of “Appalachian Spring?”
“I think…it is very stylized. I hope they’ll feel moved. I hope audiences are going to feel for the characters and connect with what each character is going through. It is an emotional piece without being over-the-top dramatic.” said June.
What about those who are familiar with the piece and what can they expect from this DK interpretation?
“Obviously each dancer puts his/her stamp on the way they dance roles, as opposed to the way someone else does it. I have seen the Graham Company perform it. Because it is one of the their mega staples, they have to be so serious when they do the piece because it is Martha’s own company performing a piece she created. Nobody expects that presentation from us, so it gives us a little bit more artistic liberty to develop the characters a little more and put our stamp on it.” added June.
For tickets and information about “Appalachian Spring,” visit the Indiana Repertory Theatre Box Office at 140 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, call (317) 635-5252 or go online to irtlive.com.