Artistic director Hancock puts his most personal pieces into one performance


Gregory Hancock has found a way to connect his three most personal pieces.

“Until There is No More,” “Every Moment … Every Day” and “The Violin Under the Bed” will be part of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s performance at 7 p.m. June 7 and 8 at The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

This is the second time each piece has been done, but in the past, all were at separate times.

“Every Moment … Every Day,” is about Hancock’s grief over his mother Florence Marie Hancock’s death at age 88 in September 2014. His mother was still working full time at St. Vincent in medical records department.

“Every moment of every day I miss my mom,” said Hancock, executive artistic director of GHDT. “I miss her presence. People don’t understand grief. They think it’s something you deal with and move on. In the piece, I use a truck loaded with rocks that the dancer drags around, which is the essence of me, carries across the stage. It’s something that is present with you all the time and you learn to deal with. You move forward because you have to. I have to keep doing my work. I have to keep paying my bills. When you lose someone significant like that in your life, you don’t move on from it.

“My mother was way more than my mother. She was my teacher, my spiritual advisor, my business partner, my travel companion. Her absence created such a void, personally and professionally.”

The opening piece, “Until There is No More,” is about Hancock’s battle with kidney cancer in 2014. In August, he will be cancer-free for five years.

“It’s about facing your mortality, your fears, your ills,” said Hancock, whose father, Norman, died when he was a teenager.

The piece about his mother is touching, funny and hopeful, he said.

“It’s more a celebration of her and things she liked,” Hancock said. “She was a great softball player, so there is a softball piece.”

When his mother was young, her large family in Kansas was poor. At 12, she started cleaned houses to help pay bills. The house owner had a violin under her bed and she told Hancock’s mother not to touch the violin.

“My mother would pull it out under the bed and just look at it and imagined playing it because her family couldn’t afford to give her lessons,” he said. “Many years later, I bought her a violin for Christmas. She never learned to play it. She tried and stuff. But she put it under her bed. The point was her life had come to the point she could have a violin under her bed.”

Abigail Lessaris portrays his mother’s spirit in two shows. In “Every Moment …Every Day,” she has a scene with fellow company dancer Taylar Green playing Hancock’s spirit.

“It’s a special moment everyone dreams about to be able to feel that person one last time,” Lessaris said. “Maybe have that closure. I touched Taylar’s shoulder and there is that feeling you are going to be OK. You can do this without me because I’ve prepared your for this.’ ‘‘Violin Under the Bed’ is more a celebration for the life Florence led. It’s about her meeting Gregory’s father, playing softball, her love of travel. It’s a bright piece that has beautiful music. Even if you didn’t know Florence, it’s easy to get lost in the color and music.”

Green can relate to the stories of grief.

“I lost my sister tragically (at age 22) and I still go through these emotions all the time,” Green said. “For me, I am portraying Gregory, but it’s also a journey for me every time.”

Isaac Jones, a dancer with the Dayton Ballot, previously played in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” for GHDT. Jones takes Hancock’s essence in the opening piece and his father’s spirit in the final piece.

“When you lose somebody, it’s important to remember the beauty and love they brought into life,” Jones said.

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