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Lineage Dance Explores the Heartaches (and Joys) of Loss in New Production

Troupe premieres the "Arc of Evolution," choreographing the discovery of growth and hope brought by loss

Published on Saturday, March 2, 2013 | 8:40 am


Losing him brought out my deepest fears, my need to protect myself from my pain. But it also brought about this need in me to love harder, to trust more fully, to enjoy and appreciate rightly, to grow.

I don’t think I’d change anything about my experience.
I’m growing from this loss and I don’t think that’s ever going to stop.
And it’s ok because anything else would be less human.

On Friday evening Lineage Dance Company premiered a powerful soul-stirring performance titled “Arc of Evolution —The Path of Loss.”

“It became about evolution of relationships, evolution of emotions and the evolution of our lives as various things impact us,” choreographer Hilary Thomas said.

The performance was the fourth and final part of the two-year grant from the Los Angeles County Cultural Affairs called “See the Music Dance.” Los Angeles musician John Guth composed original music to complement the continually evolving masterpiece.

The night could only be described in the way I overheard: Emotional, energetic, beautiful movements filled with grace and power, an electrifying performance that made the hair stand up on back of your neck. You never wanted it to end, and then it was over before you knew it.

The earlier excerpt is from one of the several responses Hilary received when she emailed out a series of questions asking friends and supporters how loss has impacted their lives to alter, grow, and ultimately change them in unexpected ways. She sifted through the stories and fused together the most powerful and moving accounts.

Elizabeth Gracen made the night come to life as she recounted those real stories of the loss of a dad, a mom, or a good friend just before each dance. She took us on a journey of the evolution of intimate relationships—both good and bad—as well as how a mother feels joy and loss in pregnancy and in the stages of her child’s growth.

Especially thought-provoking was a piece that questioned the love of technology over the love of friends. It began with an evolving friendship of three women who were fueled by each other’s energy and ideas. Just as the friendship was becoming established, a telephone rang. Lights flickered and the music stopped, all focus was on the ringing phone. Suddenly one friend runs over to answer her phone, followed closely by the other two. Fragmented and isolated, the second part of the dance was continually interrupted with text messages and phone calls until the music and dancing showed the women were entirely tied to this form of technology, almost a prisoner of it.

“All of these people have been really trusting me with some of their most personal reactions and most intimate experiences that has been really, really incredible. And so I feel like it’s deepened my relationships with them,” Hilary said.

For composer John Guth, his job was done before the night began but after the night was over he said it was a “combination of relief and joy.”

“It’s so fulfilling to do the work and to have it be well received that there’s a kind of afterglow that stays with you for a while. It’s like a filling of the tank, its like this is why we do this, to be able to share and have that resonate with people.

Guth said this was a totally different experience from the last show. They tried to map it out in the beginning but, “Next thing you know we ended up here and we were really thrilled that we ended up here, but we didn’t expect this. It was sort of ironic in that way. It really became that notion of evolution.”

“We honestly had no idea what direction it was taking for so long.” Hilary said, “It’s been really magical to see that it all of a sudden come together.”

“We want them to have some hope and want to have people learn to sort of see loss as something that helps them to grow and change and acknowledge loss in ways that we don’t normally—as a new mother I appreciate all those writing about how we’re always looking towards the first, like the first crawl or first step, the first word but we never really looked at what we lose in the process and what the last—she’s talking about the last snuggle that her son will give to her and she’ll never know that it’s the last time when he’ll sleep in the bed with her. Everytime, because they’re always moving ahead. And so just kind of looking back and appreciating those moments and the things we lose when we gain in other areas,” Hilary said.

One of the pieces took inspiration from Hilary’s own experience with her best friend as she was growing up who was diagnosed with manic depression 15 years ago and cut off all ties with her ten years ago. She began creating the dance about two years ago to show the evolution of the loss of her “partner in crime” and he has since then committed suicide.

“And from there, it’s actually evolved into a whole new relationship that I feel I have with him because I’ve been motivated to carry on all my work with his music.” Hilary said, “And actually the next show I’m working on is entirely his music and inspired by all of the gift and the passion and the creativity he has given me over the years. It has been a crazy evolution, just that one piece alone.”




You said, “Tell me what’s inside of you.”
I said, “Pain.”
You said, “Stick with it.”
“Stick with it?”
“Stick with it?”
If you’re going to try go all the way, otherwise don’t even start.
It’s the only good fight there is.


The Lineage Performing Arts Center is located at 89 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena. For tickets or more information call (626) 844-7008 or visit

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