I recently asked Michael Snipe Jr to interview Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell while she was in Chicago teaching for the Hubbard Street summer intensive. Check out this interesting conversation between two friends as they discuss Chicago ties, Fisher-Harrell’s take on Alvin Ailey’s Cry and life after Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Thanks Michael and Linda for this great read!
Michael Snipe Jr: So Linda, I know that you’ve come through Chicago for many years throughout your career with Ailey, but do you have any other connections with Chicago?
Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell: Yes, after I left Juilliard I danced with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago before joining The Ailey Company.
MSJr: Have you any connections with Jay Franke and Lar Lubovitch, the two founders of the Chicago Dancing Festival.
LDFH: Well, I just found out that some years after me, Jay Franke also attended the Juilliard School and then joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and I worked with Lar Lubovitch on 3 separate occasions while at Ailey. The first piece I did was a 15-minute duet called Fandango, set to Maurice Ravel’s Bolero. The second was called Cavalcade and the third was The Time Before The Time After (After The Time Before)…
MSJr: So you’re going to be performing Mr. Ailey’s solo Cry here at the Festival, how does that make you feel?
LDFH: Nervous, Tired, Scared, Excited…Many, many things are going through my mind.
MSJr: You learned it 13 years ago, and I know it’s a long solo, do you still worry about stamina, or can you just get into a groove and perform it.
LDFH: OH yes, stamina is still an issue, especially since I’ve been away from the company for a while, but my being away from the company and the solo will also contribute to and enhance my performance.
MSJr: How so?
LDFH: Dancing can be so self absorbed at times and when I used to do the solo, it was a lot about the steps and getting through it. Now that I have stepped away from performing as much, I am teaching and mentoring. I had a baby girl, and I’ve just been experiencing other aspects of life, all of those factors will contribute to my journey in the solo.
MSJr: And what a journey it is. I know that there are three sections to the solo. Do you have a favorite?
LDFH: I will have to say it’s a toss up between the first and the second sections. With the first section, you have the cloth and it can be used in so many ways. As it lies in your arms it can be a body that you’re mourning over. When on the floor it can be represented as you scrubbing blood off the floor and as a slave cleaning…but just as easy as you are cleaning the floor with it, you take it and wrap it around your head and you become this noble queen. It’s amazing. The second section allows you to lose yourself emotionally. You can dig deep within yourself through the music and you’ll be surprised with what you might find.
MSJr: That sounds fantastic Linda. I know many people are excited to have you back in Chicago and to be a part of the Chicago Dancing Festival. What’s the largest audience you’ve ever performed for?
LDFH: I think it will be for this festival. I’ve performed in Athens, Greece at the Herodes Atticus Theater and they attract huge crowds, but I heard last year there were about 10,000 people here for the Chicago Dancing Festival. Now, that’s exciting.
Don’t miss Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell’s exciting performance of Alvin Ailey’s Cry on Saturday, August 22 at the Celebration of American Dance in Millennium Park! Be sure to come early to nab your seats at the Pritzker Pavilion or stake out a plot on the lawn – this is definitely going to be the dance event of the year!