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Flash Memorial, 4-21: The Healer
My Friend Homer: What a Way to Live

(Editor's Note: This Monday, April 25, marks one year since Homer Avila left us in body, but his spirit remains very much with us, as those who attended last Monday's memorial and performance at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church were reminded. To read more about Homer, just enter his name in the search engine on the Dance Insider Home page.)

By Tyr Throne
Copyright 2005 Tyr Throne

Homer and I met when we were on scholarship together at the Alvin Ailey School for two years beginning around 1978. Dancing is both very exhilarating and extremely challenging. Every year many of the scholarship students had to leave the program because they were broken from injuries that they could not heal.

Homer and I were healers. Everyday we were in pain somewhere and joked with each other about that: "Where are you mutilated today man?" But we were healers. We kept going and supported each other with tough love and courage: "Got to get it up and keep it up, right man?"

We both went on to professional careers. Homer danced with many modern companies and choreographed and performed with his wonderful partner Edisa Weeks. I danced with modern and then ballet companies -- and then founded and directed my own internationally touring evolutionary ballet ensemble.

We would run into each other on the streets and in the theaters of NYC and all over the world. Outside of the elevator at Frankfurt Ballet: "Hey man! What's up?" He was always doing three projects at once -- always inspired -- and also interested in and supportive of how I was evolving.

Homer's dancing was amazing -- explosive and decisive, with complete conviction. He put himself totally into every movement and moment. Like it was his last. He always danced like that -- like it was his last.

What a way to live.

In 2001 Homer found out he had cancer in his hip and lost his entire right leg, and I lost my home and theater near the World Trade Center and almost my life from 9/11. After that Homer went through a transformation. He became more and more luminous. For me there was a complex mixture of anger and a lost soul wandering the world and an emerging more spiritual being with a luminous almost Christlike quality when he was dancing.

People would cry when Homer danced. They would be deeply touched by the startling combination of skill and ability and vulnerability and difficulty. Your mind was thrown into a spin. You looked deeply into yourself while you witnessed Homer's dance. Your mortality, gifts, blessings, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, strengths, and soul were very evident in the moment as he moved so beautifully and surprisingly unlimitedly with his strikingly clear limitation.

I heard about his passing from my friend Edisa. Images of his face flashed in my mind. And the shine of sweat on his strong arms and back when he was performing a solo last year for Dancers Responding to AIDS. And his smile -- mostly that -- his radiant smile.

I will remember him. His shining dark eyes and smile; sleek, strong, and expressive body; his glistening sweat, rhythm, and breath will live forever in my memory.

Thank you for living and dancing and dying with such dignity and passion and inspiration, Homer.

Every August 13 and April 25, your birth and passing days, I will remember and dance for you.

And whenever my friends or students need inspiration, I will tell them your story.

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