John Heginbotham: What My Teacher Taught Me

John Heginbotham's Closing Bell

Though former Mark Morris Dance Group member John Heginbotham premiered his own company, Dance Heginbotham, in 2011, he's been a choreographer for much longer. As a teenager, he attended Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and enrolled in choreography guru Bessie Schönberg's three-week dance composition intensive. Heginbotham credits Schönberg for caring about her students as dancers and humans.

"She was interested not only in teaching us how to make up a dance but also how to live our best lives. Bessie would let us come into her class and vent our frustrations about life--I was 19 years old--and then she would tell us: 'Now you just have to leave it all in the grass.' She meant, of course, the grass at Jacob's Pillow. It's a life lesson, but it also applies to choreography. Sometimes you hit a wall or get frustrated, but you have to do all that you can and then learn to let it go."

Dance Heginbotham premieres Dark Theater at Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, October 29-November 2. www.bam.org

Photos by Amber Star Merkens

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