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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
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
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
Thank you for living
and dancing and dying with such dignity and passion and inspiration,
Every August 13 and
April 25, your birth and passing days, I will remember and dance
And whenever my friends
or students need inspiration, I will tell them your story.
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