Better Get Hit in Your Soul – Audience Feature – Dinou Martlett-Stuart
DJD’s upcoming production,Better Get Hit in Your Soul is dances inspired by the music, life and times of Charles Mingus. The show was originally mounted in 2013 as Kimberley Cooper’s first work as Artistic Director. The company has changed since it’s premiere. Original cast member, Dinou Marlett-Stuart was a DJD Company Dancer for many years. She has some amazing insight about her experience as a dancer then and likewise as an audience member now.
Sitting in the audience…waiting…knowing that you are in the audience, not backstage. The lights go down…Rube starts playing and I feel all the butterflies and adrenaline start to flow. I catch my breath. I release my breath. This is going to be amazing!
The whole show is like that. My body’s muscle memory keeps twitching. I’m counting the music. Trying to remember what the corrections were. But most of all, my emotions and connection to the music are taking me back through the journey that was Better Get Hit in Your Soul 2013. They are as strong and deep as they were opening night. Actually stronger, because I can’t get up and dance all the feels that I feel.
One of the clearest memories of this show was how far we had to push ourselves, emotionally, mentally and physically. The music was that intense and Kim’s choreography was right on track with it. The difference between the glorious, instrument filled highs and relentless, nagging lows were a dancers’ dream and it kept us right on the edge at all times. As a company, we depended on each other to make sure we didn’t go too far down the rabbit hole.
Before the show in 2013, I knew of Mingus’s more accessible music like Haitian Fight Song and Good-bye Pork Pie Hat and really loved the rich, intricate melodies of it. But I didn’t know anything about the man. I didn’t want to go to those pieces where time fell apart and I had to struggle to stay alongside the musicians. After doing the show, my understanding of jazz music seemed to increase tenfold and I listened/ interpreted jazz music from a much deeper place. I have come to embrace the chaos because that’s where clarity and interconnection come from.
Is the show different? Of course! It’s alive. It was wonderful seeing so many dancers on stage for the moments when we were trying to “make a crowd” and the skinnier bar looked very nice and manageable. (Haha). The one thing I missed was that I wanted to be in the club… the Big Secret Theatre gave us an opportunity to be IN IT with the audience. Sweat, breathing and touch became commonplace during the show and made being chased with an axe through the audience, all the more thrilling!
Better Get Hit in Your Soul is dark, gritty, lonely, exuberant, funny, and relentless and this reincarnation is a testament to the vision and talent of Kim and the dancers.
– Dinou Marlett- Stuart