When is a ballet class more than just about polishing plies and Arabesques?
When it’s taught by Myron Johnson.
The founder of Ballet of the Dolls, Johnson had a personal crisis exactly a year ago that led to his writing of a long letter that seemed like a preamble to tragedy. Fortunately, he did not commit suicide on April 1, 2014. Instead, he checked himself into a hospital, where he was treated for nine weeks.
In the meantime, he cancelled the rest of the season for the Dolls, and put the inventive troupe that he started in 1986 on hiatus. That led to the idling company members such as Stephanie Fellner, Robert Skafte and Heather Cadigan. Importantly, the company’s shaky status left the struggling Ritz Theater in Northeast Minneapolis without the principal tenant it had had since 2006.
“I’m feeling better and I’m putting myself back in the game,” Johnson said Wednesday. “It was exactly one year ago that I went down. Oh, Lord, what a journey it has been.”
Johnson is still unsure about when, or if, the Dolls would be resurrected. But he is hopeful as he continues to heal.
“I’m taking it step by step,” he said. “Right now I’m glad to be in a place where I can move again. It’s been a whole year without dance, and I missed the pleasure of being in a room moving with all these wonderful people. It’s pretty special to be in the dance world, as hard as it is sometimes, and to be in the mix with all these cool and beautiful people.”
Johnson’s class, which is focused on technique and is aimed at professionals, will reunite many of his company members. It will also introduce him to some younger members of the Sewell company. He said that the cross-pollination is helping to juice his creativity, even as he savors the ability to dance and perhaps create work again.
“I didn’t expect to be here now,” he said reflectively. “I wouldn’t call it a second chance but it does feel like a rebirth. I’m at a place where I don’t take anything for granted. Every day is a blessing.”