We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Lynn Lewark and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary Lynn, what are you inspired by?
I have passion to know and to learn This curiosity has led me through countless stories and histories, fabrics and paints, trainings and travels across the world and back I enjoy the process and the chase My mind and my heart are always trying to put together beautiful moments, I love going to too much trouble and time creating a performance and the magical moment when it all comes to life I am most inspired by the laughter and play in children, their fearless belief that anything is possible and their adaptability to change I love seeing human beings fully expressed
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I love movement. I always have. I also love people, seeing them in full expression & truly alive, this makes me really happy. This can happen in elaborate ways through performance or just one person standing open with another. Knowing this is important about my story and how I got here. Dance is a total experience of the body, heart and soul. You can’t neglect any part of this if you want the human being to be fully expressed. This is what has inspired me in my life and in my movement. I have created two dance houses, Between the Bones Dance and Bone House North, where I help people to learn to move, feel and create. I work with children, adults, beginners and professionals. I have choreographed over twenty original dance theater productions. My movement and creative process is based on letting go, finding range and unearthing the story that is already there. My work makes exquisite dancers and humans, in body and heart, along with creating evocative dance theater productions. Even before I studied dance, I was making wild dance performances with costumes jumping out of trees as the neighbors watched, or off the coffee table in our living room. My process extends from the way I played, I never really learned how to choreograph from anyone or any institution. It came from my desire to see, understand, experience and watch the effect on others. Unfortunately like many dancers who train extensively while they are young, I developed multiple injuries, including anorexia. I actually quit dancing and thought I would never go back. On the path to healing I got a degree in education and began teaching school for K-2 at an innovative school that was looking at new ways for teaching and learning. I also got back to dancing myself and exploring body/mind practices. I became passionate about how people learn and started to wonder how I could improve the way dance is taught and created. My studio and companies have been laboratories for this learning and creating. They are a mark of my insatiable curiosity and drive to be a part in creating healthy expressive humans and telling good stories. I have worked hard to create a communal atmosphere for training and learning which does always happen in dance. My skills in human relationships are as up to par as my work in dance. When building a choreographic piece I know that all that participate must agree, grow and work together. We stand in each other’s strengths and carry and support weakness or we will not succeed. The piece becomes a microcosm for a well-working society. I am both playful and fierce in getting there. This past winter/spring I put my work to the test. Not only did I do this with a group of community women, I did it with a group of ten children during COVID. While many practices, forms and performances were unable to carry on, my work continued and thrived. In each process we made both a film and a live performance. At first we performed just for our beloved due to COVID life in June. We later performed for a larger audience safely. What was inherent was the stories we created were self-portraits of ourselves in this time not only as individuals but as community. The audiences and the performers wept with joy and release of grief. Today due to our current situation with COVID, I moved all my classes and rehearsals outside and created a Forest Dance program meaning, we are going to dance outside until this is over. You know the saying, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” Well, that is us right now and it seems the safest place to be. I know the powerful healing effect movement has and I can see how important it is to all of us to do this despite the weather while we keep working with the world conditions. I know the work I do is powerful both in process and performance. I wanted to create a way to touch more people. Over the last ten weeks, I created two new shows. One is called, Mo͞ovmənt with my professional company, Bone House North and the other, Cinderella, with my student company at Between the Bones Dance. The spirit of both of them has “a show for the troops kinda feeling” giving people a moment to pause, to laugh, let go, to understand and commune together. Both of these shows are ready to be dropped down into backyards and neighborhoods safely. In all of this I learned an important thing…You matter. Whether in work, love, friendship, in community, never underestimate the possibility of your impact & how even the tiniest movement can create help, create change & strength in our most vulnerable places & you and only you are the beginning…
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would do a flight day/week with them…this is something I invented or at least I do with my family…we go to lots of places but no where very long and take pictures with polaroid at every stop To the zoo to ride the carousel at least two times and see the newest baby animal, kombucha tasting, Union Station for walk around and head to the bridge, Denver Art museum for whatever is the newest exhibit & then get coffee and sit outside and people watch, boat ride at Washington Park, sushi at Sushi Ronin or if we are really adventurous Matsuhisha in Vail, Roller Skating at Skate City, Tattered Cover, Happy Cakes or Beet Box for yummy dessert… my house for breakfast…hiking Mount Falcon Park.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh gosh so many… I am full of gratitude for the teachers who have been in my life. and there has been many…most impactful have been my students, community, colleagues & my family, in the art of dance for teaching me to work communally and to remember that movement is innate in all of us, we just have to remember, research and keep playing: Ohad Naharin and the teachers of Gaga Movement Language & Ilan Lev and the teachers of the Ilan Lev method. For Human Development, Relationships Embodiment and Healing, the teachers at the Denver Waldorf School, John Wineland, Rob Wergin & Teo Alfero. & my dance heroes Pina Bausch, Batsheva Dance Company, Inball and Pinto, Crystal Pite and Bob Fosse.
My photo is by Heather Gray Photography The rest of photos by Tessa Machmer of Machmer Movement