this man has truly influenced my life... he is a one off... he does, so masterfully, what all artists wish to do... which is to push back the boundaries of what is ok and what we are afraid of... when I was very young and I went to see his 'onnagata' show, and at the very end, as he ascended into heaven to the sounds of 'beim schlafengehen' from strauss' 'four last songs', inspiring me to sing them, which I now do, they are firmly in my repertoire and I always think of him when i perform them. and then, to the the bach b minor mass… i mean, to be honest I think I nearly fainted. or died. or something physical, brought on by something spiritual that just can't be described or quantified, i was just crying and smiling and shivering and my eye makeup was rolling down my face... i looked like a horror film, the friend with me said afterwards. i couldn't have cared less! for once. i was finally at home. i knew this art. It reminded my anima of something that connected me with... God. high art just takes me straight there. drugs don't work. drink is the rubbish. and, however toned, fit and powerful we are, ultimately, our bodies are frail. but this was heaven to me... i started to write songs at the piano, started to move more experimentally round my room in my body (i had been a dancer, til i went to music academy)... and i started painting and the endless poetry writing began... anyhow, anyhow, anyhow...when i saw lindsay at his 'talk' a few days later in a little ante-room at the sadlers wells theatre in which 'onnagata' had been playing, he was wearing a mickey mouse sweat shirt in salmon pink which i found irresistible. he was answering questions from the little audience and my then boyfriend whispered ''have you seen who is about two metres away, opposite you?''... goodness heavens! it was my then idol and other inspiration, kate bush. she looked like a tiny luminous doll. she has the art of being invisible totally down pat. she says she wants it, and she has it. i am witness to this fact. and i, surely her greatest fan in my teens, would not even have noticed her, apart from as a tiny woman who banged my boyfriend with her tote bag as she went upstairs, exiting right behind lindsay, with such insouciance that he nearly fell over, also being of dolls house stature. in those days i had dyed chicken yellow hair in a bob, i used to dress like madonna, my final co-idol to this piece, and i had on black italian leather ankle boots, and a black mini skirt, a bright pink sweat stop slashed wide open, and to top off the visual agony, a biker's leather jacket... i know, well i was very young! lindsay was talking and floating around generally, and he seemed to be rather shy of the attention as a speaker... though he spoke well, he was at times very witty, often putting on a show of being one thing or another and generous with both information and time. he certainly spoke very fondly of his time growing up in south shields and spoke so warmly, and delightfully about his mother and of his street, I remember quite clearly... he was showing true fondness and loyalty to childhood dwelling, south shields. this name of a place, of which little emma had never heard!
lindsay was always in my life from them, but i had no idea what to expect! i guess prayers work, readers. think on.
i went to italy to expand my art and learn to sing opera... and now can and do, the final addition to the artist's circle, and I saw on the great hub of all modern culture... facebook! an advert for a lindsay kemp ''show'' in rome, which was, translated, to be a dance and mime workshop... well! i hadn't properly danced for at least a billion years at this point, but i could move and though i wasn't stupendously fit, having been very ill, i knew i could hold up, you know, the cure of dr. theatre and all that... and so, the next item on my agenda... you had to write a letter to go with your photo and cv for lindsay's attention... and i just thought ''right...words i can do! ''... and basically i gave it to him in word form! i expressed what had been pent up in me for all that time... and what i felt when he performed, what i got out of the very breath between his curved movements, the fluidity which eased my searching and painfully frustrated soul, and readers, blow me down! i was accepted onto the course! i was giddy with excitement... terrified. this really was a dream come true, even to meet him. let alone spend two days with him. i was asked very discreetly ''why are you more excited about this than the compliments given to you by this maestro and that maestra about your future in opera''... i mean, i just shut up. insecurity silenced me. it often does.
i went to rome, stayed in a bed n breakfast... and turned up to first day. my heart was thudding. oh God. when he drifted in to the changing rooms, my eyes filled but i pretended to be cool, something i have never really mastered, and he beelined straight for me and said ''you're emma'', i said yes and had a heart attack on the spot, he looked right into me and said, ''your letter was just wonderful, yes. i knew i had to have you here. thank you.'' lindsay was thanking me. i said, ''gosh, thank you'' rather softly and slowly for an expressionist such as myself. i felt like a little piece of happy insufficient nothingness. a dot of wanting.
the course was wonderful. a mix of mime and basic dance, but what made it special was how giving lindsay was of his art. ''not for me, he said, but for you.'' for you. i so know that feeling. i just want to give to people too. an audience. the public. my lover. my family. the world! he was so giving. of himself, within his heart. here was giving from within the very centre... the nut inside the stone inside the peach. from himself, from showing the moves to watching us move. there were about a dozen of us, i cant remember. when i think of the violence, the utter dirtiness, the tragedy and ecstatically expressed sentiments his art sometimes portrays, he seemed a very peaceful soul. i cant imagine he tolerates being thwarted much. i am smiling as i write this. he is such a dear.
what made me really giggle privately, looking down,was the knowing looks lindsay gave to me a couple of times very subtlely... about a certain thing that kept happening that i think only he and i noticed. oh i will never forget that look. not ever! It was mischievous, child-like, ''i've stolen some humbugs, and i'm going to eat them one by one and savour them in the garden on my own'' it was a fabulouos moment for me. we shared a little something. anyhow, at the end, it was my favourite bit, where he simply put on some wonderful music... i don't recall... vaughan williams? no i think it was debussy... something more frenchy sounding... oh anyhow, and he just said, 'do what you feel', and I did what i felt. turns out what i felt was to kneel down and simply use my arms and trunk... he was watching me. and he liked it. and he saw. and of course he saw himself in the mirrors and in the people watching him watching them. because all through his giving, he was exuding his own warmth, his sex, his power. his...self.
anyhow afterwards, typically graciously and generously, he let us have pics taken with him and posed for some on his own, in groups etc, and drew for us his own art, his drawings. that is kindness. his pen was drawing the curves of a bending figure with a japanese fan, because i had told him I had bought a lindsay kemp art fan after onnagata, in the merchandise place after his life-changing show at sadlers wells, and i told him I not only have it but still use it. of course i will keep my picture in a special frame and place forever. when we all went home, i told my father: 'something has changed within me. and the wheels were in motion. my intuition soars.'
my memory of lindsay at that weekend was of a dear gentle man. very graceful and very inspired. charmingly wilful and with a very dry wit. a man who notices everything, every nano-detail. someone dear, in whom you could find layer and layers, like a really good french cake. a pass the parcel man, if you will! layers and layers. the truth is, you don't have to unwrap this endlessly hidden prize. because lindsay's energy radiates so strongly, that even through a billion layers, you'll see him... a dancing angel...