My journey in and out of circles, some long-established and some short-lived, fundamentally informs Grace Fury. Early, family-driven enculturation in competitive Scottish Highland Dance instilled the requisite strength, discipline, and desire for fast-track training in classical and contemporary dance which led me to membership in a State ballet company and its culture. These community experiences in conjunction with academic study in history, philosophy, math, and drama, graduate work in justice and ethics, and a lifelong passion for film, all influenced my curious ventures into independent production. I have created and directed various works for stage and film over the past twenty years that have migrated from one interest or idea to the next, each one influenced by the previous.
To that point, I have woven preserved elements of earlier works into this “evolved” culmination of my artistic struggles and successes. By building Grace Fury’s uniqueness, in part, from projects past, I sought to authenticate my dance over time. Moreover, I did so to bring a kind of wholeness or life to the film. That is, Grace Fury doesn’t pretend to offer a narrowly focused rendering of “perfection, but rather she exists to reflect being – aesthetically and philosophically alive. “Somewhere between” Celtic, Classical and Contemporary, fiction and non-fiction, whimsical theatre and cerebral film, the idealistic and realistic, at times confident, otherwise conflicted and multidimensional Grace Fury spirals to a new destination. From the depths of her darkness, she finds light. She recognizes her limits in co-existence with so many others in struggle to find happiness and peace and promises to grow in mind and mission, if allowed. But to reach the stars – for real – is to be true. She resolves, by cosmic duty, to keep going … in the words of Walt Whitman, to “contribute a verse”.
It’s no wonder Grace Fury defies the boundaries of genre, heretofore received as a musical dance film, an autobiographical documentary, an experimental work, and an arthouse production. As such, she also defies a dangerously dominant, utilitarian approach to art that threatens its very definition, sees it as just another route to money-making and mass addiction rather than mass development, and reduces us to tool and consumer in algorithm and business model. But, in the words of Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society “We’re not laying pipe. We’re talking about poetry”, and like other projects in the world, the daring consequence of Grace Fury’s complex being actually broadens her scope. It makes her my living, emergent experience – greater in purpose than the sum of her parts. (Thank you, Aristotle).
In her totality, I see my resistance to all the forces, inside and out, that warp and degrade human creativity, but I also find my point. Our common power to let imagination and skill run wild together and into form, so we might delight, frustrate, and engage minds, so we might open doors and conversations with each other, makes it all worthwhile. Art is one beautiful reason why we even bother to make money and to live. The art in us gives us some redeeming justification, through the worst of times and the worst in us, to thrive. Our personal stories, however remote, can be epic and timely in that effort. They can serve a broader purpose and make a difference in shaping and sustaining a healthier world. If we lose sight of that ambition and perspective, which cannot and should not come from the same routes, places and people, exhaustively for all the wrong reasons, then we lose our humanity, our true greatness –- what defines us beyond our bones and basic survival.
Grace Fury is my voice, real and sincere, not by exclusive platform, but by artistic action from the ground up, with all I’ve got and the help of friends. She is the walk in my talk. She is the change I want to see in myself and in the world, to paraphrase another great spirit. She respects the grace and intelligence of her audience, which is not her failing, but a compliment and a call to action, an invitation to dance for 76 minutes and to collaborate forever after. She is my activism and my peace – my Grace Fury. May all of her edges and curves, moods and mystery, insight and imperfection – her full, nuanced being – brought to life with little institutional or industry support “touch for good” and move hearts to join me in her message of hope and faith – in us. (Published March 15, 2021)