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To get the white lace curtains on stage the precise shade of grey she wanted "I boiled it in my soup pot," says choreographer Sally Anne Friedland. She needs the curtains for "Borders," commissioned for the prestigious month-long Harkness Dance Festival in New York, where it will have its world premiere.
It's one of two works Friedland's Dance Drama Company will present between February 15-19. The other is "Red" (2004) that premiered during that year's Hot Summer Dance and is still running. "Red" is about women, and "Borders" about personal frontiers. Both have Friedland's trademark visual humor that usually has audiences giggling audibly.
The idea of dancing in New York and at the Harkness to boot has Friedland both awed and thrilled. "New York is the dance capital of the world," she says, chomping down Hanukka latkes, "it's so wonderful, and I'd thought it wouldn't happen."
On a visit to New York early in the spring Friedland had dropped off a tape of Red at the Harkness offices. "Don't call us, we'll call you," was the expected outcome of her visit. The months went by and she'd given up hope when at 5 a.m one morning, there was the longed for e-mail of acceptance.
The "drama" in the company's name has "nothing to do with theater," says Friedland decisively. "It's dance with drama. Life is drama. Life without drama is death."
The five dancers in the company - four women and one man - are all "young, experienced and professional," she says appreciatively. "I don't have to teach them. They take what I give them and run with it."
A Friedland dance may speak in parables, but it doesn't speak in riddles. It's accessible and communicative because for her "art is about communication. The message must come across. It's important for me that what I do touches the heart."