Sorry to be so long from my blog.
The performances of TOMMY at Adelphi University were a great success.
We sold out for 4 of the 5 performances. It was a very unique experience presenting this work of mine in collaboration with a dance program as good and with such a long history of dance development as Dance Adelphi.
During the final week of Rehearsals and Performances, my Uncle Kip, Kip Watson passed away. Kip along with my mother, Barbara Riggins were the founders of Southern Ballet Theatre (Now The Orlando Ballet) it was a hard decision not to leave the production and go to my family and help with everything.
My Uncle Kip would have been pissed if I left the production to help with his funeral. I could just hear him telling me; “Are you crazy, I’m dead you can’t fix that”. “Your work on the TOMMY rock opera is brilliant get to work that is what we do”. So I did and I dedicated the performances to him. He has always believed in pushing the art form forward and he loved that a contemporary ballet choreographer (His Nephew) had successfully used this material.
He always told me, “never be afraid to move this forward if we don’t no one will”
For his 65th birthday he ask me to choreograph a piece for him and his wife, Eliza. I was taken back and then I understood what he was asking. Can you make a piece that means something with a different set of tools?
I have made ballets all over the world, I never worry, I am never afraid of these commissions. I approach them with great enthusiasm.
The request from my Uncle terrified me for a few days.
What the heck am I going to do with this older gentleman and his wife that anyone would ever want to see? Uncle Kip, saw the fear in my eyes and just said; “Do what you do, it will be great”.
So I did. And they performed it for a couple of years and it was an audience favorite in Dance Festivals all over Florida. It never occurred to me that art transcends age.
My Uncle along with my Mother were Founders in establishing Ballet Companies in the United States.
I wrote a eulogy for my Uncle that is printed below that was read at his funeral.
Good Afternoon Ladies, Gentlemen, Family and Friends
It is with great pride and love that I write to you all about Henry Kip Watson; Uncle Kip.
I am unfortunately, on tour with my new Company, we open tonight for a five performance run. And I’m sorry I cannot be with you all at the very important memorial.
In some ways I think Uncle Kip would want me to be doing what he and I both love so much. The Performances of my new rock ballet to The Who’s, “Tommy” will all be dedicated to Uncle Kip.
I have known Uncle Kip all my life.
He taught me to Fish and how to sail a model sailboat in Central Park.
He was my first Dancer Role Model, My teacher and wonderful supporter and collaborator of works I created in Orlando.
He was and an innovator. His genius sometimes was unseen because it existed behind the scenes.
I am forever in his debt he taught me more than I can ever explain.
I’m proud to call him my Uncle and my friend.
I Love him a lot and owe him even more.
The Traveling Ballet Master