“You’ve got to meet the Landrums” my friend commanded one day at work. Apparently I had no choice in the matter so off we went to the Landrum dance class the following day. At 18, I had spent my share of hours at the ballet barre but coming out of my first class with Jacqui and Bill, I felt my body had been redesigned and that more doors, possibilities and energy patterns had been opened in my hour and a half with them than in all my previous classes put together. They were what they taught…focused, insanely beautiful and hugely gifted. Time in their classes led to working together when producers on a project I was doing were smart enough to hire them as choreographers. In the fullness of time our weave continued and led to one of my very most formative and enduring friendships. Chosen family. Over the years I witnessed them apply their creative forces to their every life transition and challenge to beautiful effect. They always, but always moved forward no matter how high the hurdle. The ferocity with which they lived their good lives even as young talents, became a beacon for many. When I wondered what the ideal marriage might look like all I had to do was witness theirs. Their intertwined vibrancy was and remains the object of envy for all. When my life would grind to a halt I only had to conjure a fraction of their gusto to get things moving again. When at a life intersection I could always ask myself, “What would Bill or Jacqui do?” and get my answer. When nervous about going into an audition I would channel Jacqui’s fearlessness and go for broke. When I embarked into the world of cabaret singing I enlisted their coaching help. The list goes on.
Tragically it has been a decade now since Jacqui died. If the weight of words could fall into a black hole through the screen…the words in the last sentence did so.
Having suffered so indescribable a loss, how, we all worried and wondered, would Bill ever find his way? Well, he did ofcourse find his way forward with one breath at a time, with Herculean strength, with deliberate choices. Doing so I have to think has been the greatest test of and conjuring up of his own creative powers. Forward Bill moved not only to exist, but to create a new and energized life of different and equal depth.
The dancer in him works every day in his studio…exploring and challenging himself to make new discoveries always with integrity of both mind and body. The intellect in him took on learning a new foreign language and how to play the guitar. The perennial student in him took on learning about organic gardening. The philanthropist in him promptly set up a program for the elementary school in his village that graduated into a community operated farmers market, also a recycling effort run by the students. He carries no baggage, holds no grudges, nor does he pass judgement. He keeps who he wants in his life and moves on from others without resentment when needed. If a moment comes that seems hard he’ll give himself the directive to “Change the energy” or “Change the character.” Challenges can be crippling but in the Landrum’s case and now in Bill’s alone, the creative principle no matter the G-force is the rocket he pilots.
A multitude of students came through Bill and Jacqui’s classes. Many, who went on to great successes, attribute their rise to lessons learned in the Landrum studio. When any one of us in his circle point this out, it always comes as a surprise to him that he has had choreographic influence on life journeys. He never set out to be a mentor but the unique path they blazed and now he blazes, is its own map to true north on how to negotiate life’s rapids, how to overcome and how to build an astonishingly beautiful, meaningful life. For all these reasons and more my cherished, remarkable friend Bill is also my mentor. My friend was right. I did have to meet the Landrums.