Interior Design: 17 Years in the Making

Interior Design: 17 Years in the Making

Interior Design is the first piece I made for Invertigo, and it is the final one I will make as the Artistic Director before the company transitions to its new model of leadership.

(It is not the last work I will make for Invertigo, don’t fret!)

If you’d like to know some of the stories around the making of this piece, I’d like to tell them to you. Here they are.



I am commissioned to create a work for Rebeca Hernandez and Abraham Ponce Díaz, supported by Mexico’s Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes. I commute to Tijuana every weekend for a couple of months and we work in a beautiful tiny theatre. I drive down every weekend, lugging the table with me.

(That same table will be on stage in a couple weeks. We’ve been places, me and that table. That’s another story.)

It’s about our interior design – how we design our rooms, yes, but also how we design our internal worlds, our selves. It’s about how we find home.

How do we find home?

Rebeca and Abraham are the first dancers to transform the table into a bed, a shower, and a boat, to transform the images in my head into a real story. Rebeca translates for me when my combination of rudimentary Spanish and mime isn’t good enough to convey my meaning to Abraham.

Rebeca, photographed by Laura.

After rehearsals, they take me through winding neighborhoods to eat incredible food at their favorite places. I feel so lucky to be there. (I wish now that I had been better at community-creation, because I would have loved to connect with more artists there.)

People think the story is about Isak and me. It isn’t, but we have just moved into our first apartment together. Someone asks, “Did you make this piece just to use up your moving boxes?”

“I just couldn’t think of a cheaper way to get rid of them,” I say.



I perform with Abraham in the next iteration of the piece. It is Invertigo’s first self-produced show, on a Leap Year. Here are some photos:




I think, “I would like to revisit this piece. I am 10 years older, I have honed my craft, I have developed my resources.”

I think about empty spaces – rooms that we fill with things, souls that we fill with memories, relationships that we fill with each other. What about the empty space of a belly after a pregnancy loss? I think I would like to weave that story into the show.

I make plans, I cast dancers, I book rehearsal space.

One month before we begin rehearsals, I have a miscarriage. It is a shock. I feel alone, but I also don’t, because I share my story and so many people say, “I know this experience too. You’re not alone.” I realise that we need these stories – we need a multitude of stories, so the nuance, breadth, and range of this experience is no longer a secret.



I begin rehearsals with Hyosun Choi and Jonathan Bryant. We make something beautiful. We show 15- and 30-minute versions at several Los Angeles events.

Jon and Hyosun are beyond incredible. Their generosity in co-creating and performing this piece is transformative. I feel myself step into new possibilities as an artist.



(photos by Cheryl Mann)

After performances, in the lobby, people talk to me. I hold space for story after story, as I have somehow become a safe place for these moments of processing, of healing.

After one show, I stand with probably a dozen people in succession as they tell me their stories of loss. More than one woman says, “I’ve never told anyone this before…” They tell me they cried during the show. They tell me they laughed really hard. One couple holds hands while he shakily tells me they recently had a late-term abortion to save her life, and he says, “I felt something heal inside me watching this show. Just a little.” She says, “But just a little is so much right now.”

Toward the end of this unexpected lobby vigil, one final couple remains. I take a breath (I am honored to hold this space, and it’s also… a lot of energy, yknow?). I get ready. They come up to me and say, “We loved it. It was so relatable. That part where the dancers are fighting over where the house plant should go? That was us yesterday!” and they both lay out their respective cases for where their plant should be.

I exhale and laugh so hard tears run down my face. I think, this is sacred work. The witnessing and reflecting of such profound things, and also the delight in the smallest sparks of recognition.

I will never forget you, my lobby friends. I carry every story with me.



We bring the piece to the Seattle International Dance Festival. I take a field trip to the exotic Washington Packaging Supply to pick up cardboard boxes for our set. The staff there is bemused – “You want boxes for what?” Shout out to WPS employee Hung for snapping a pic.



The audience is warm and thoughtful. A woman sits next to me and she doesn’t know who I am. At the end of the show, she nudges me. “I’ve never seen dancers talk onstage. A little weird, but they did a good job.” I nod and say, “Yeah, they did.”

I plan to finish the show, to expand it to be a full-evening work.

We get a National Dance Project grant to make Formulae & Fairy Tales, which is AMAZING. So I put Interior Design aside.



I want to finish this piece. I need to finish it before I leave Los Angeles. I don’t know why I need this, but I do.

People think the story is about Isak and me. It isn’t, but we are about to move across the country into a new home.

Someone asks, “Did you make this piece just to get free moving boxes after the show is over?”

“I just couldn’t think of a cheaper, easier way to get them,” I say, “than to produce an entire show.”



Jon is unavailable to return to the role, so I ask Marco Palomino to join the cast. He and Hyosun immediately meld together in their roles. We craft the world together. I am in awe at every rehearsal.




The virtuosity of movement still thrills me (ya girl loves incredible partnering), but it’s the intimacy of the story that keeps me coming back to this show. It’s the laughter that turns on a dime into heartache that spins into delight and so on…

The table is the same, but I am not. I am transformed, by 17 years of creating, leading, failing, losing, loving, hurting, healing…

How do we find home? In one another.


I can’t wait to share this show with you. I’ll see you at home.

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