In her new dance photography book, MG, Marjorie Goodson stepped out of her comfort zone, a frightening and enlightening experience in equal measure.
BY MICHELLE ZERILLO-SOSA
Why was it important to publish this book?
Originally, the plan was to create one book just for me — my personal love project. It never occurred to me that anyone other than me, [my] friends and family would be interested in what I was creating, particularly as I was a dancer in my fifties and naturally felt intimidated to even consider such a bold move as publishing. It was only after I began to see the quality of work that was being created by my amazing photographer, Andreea Radutoiu, and [my] hair and makeup stylist, Torsten Witte, that I found the courage to put myself and my art into the public eye. I could feel my confidence and my passion as an artist growing, and thus, my desire to share and inspire others in the process.
What do you hope your book will achieve?
I want my book to be both a visual and tactile experience for the viewer. To feel the weight of the book in your hands, the thickness and smoothness of the pages as you turn them, to see the rich saturation of colours within the photos and, last, to feel the emotional and physical quality of the images themselves. Of course, my greatest wish, aside from the experience itself, would be that MG could inspire others to pursue and create their own passion.
You’ve been a dancer since you were eight years old. What was it like experiencing dance for the very first time, and has it changed over the years?
As a child, I was very physical, so it only seemed natural that I would fall in love with dancing. I loved the beauty and grace of dance and moving my body through space. There was an innocence to my dancing as a child, but as an adult, I bring a more sophisticated and emotional palette to the way I approach dance — something only time and experience can give you.
What influence did being the daughter of game show producer Mark Goodson have on you as you were growing up and becoming an artist in your own right?
My father and I were very close, and I loved him deeply. Not only was he a loving and nurturing father, he was an incredible role model with a tremendous work ethic. I don’t think I realized the impact he’d had on me and all the life lessons that he’d taught me until he passed in 1992, and I became a mother soon after in 1993, with the birth of my beautiful daughter, Hannah. As an artist, I try to apply his tenacity and humility toward my work. My father never rested on his laurels or took his success for granted. He was both humble and driven at the same time. He had a very simple success equation: [if] you want to be good at something, you have to work at it. Talent alone isn’t enough. I live and breathe his philosophy to this day, and it has given me the strength and courage to create not only MG, but also my upcoming art/dance book, MG.2.
Why was it important to be the subject of this book?
I wanted to challenge myself as an artist and to put myself on the front lines of creativity, not only being the subject upon which the light is shining, but the very beacon itself. I wanted to see if I had the courage to follow my passion as an artist, in spite of my fear, and see it through to the end — to put myself front and centre in my own creation and to literally live my passion.
Do you think this book will empower people, especially women?
If you want to inspire, then you must walk the walk. I did just that when I chose to create my dance photography book, MG. For me, it represented a new and exciting chapter in my life, a transition as a dancer and a woman. Creating this book has given me tremendous courage and strength of conviction to push past my fears and embrace sides of myself that had been dormant for many years: the artist, the creator, the woman, the warrior. I hope my conviction and my strength of purpose will inspire and empower women of all ages to pursue their passions and to explore the notion that art is ageless, and there are no rules when it comes to creativity.
What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Well, that would be the three Ds in my life; my dog, my daughter and my dancing.
What do you think about the art form of ballet?
Ballet is grace, beauty, strength and discipline, all rolled into one. I love it.
Do you fear any part of aging?
Not being able to dance — however, that is why I try to always keep moving. I take dance class, either jazz or ballet, every day. I train to keep my muscles strong, and I take conditioning classes like Pilates and Gyrotonic to keep my strength and flexibility. Aging is a part of life, but we don’t have to be powerless to it.
“THE POURING OF PAINT IS A RECURRING THEME IN MY NEW BOOK, EXCEPT THIS TIME, I’M THE CANVAS, AND THE PAINT IS MY DANCE PARTNER”
Tell us about a special memory in your life.
I know this answer is beyond cliché, but the birth of my daughter, Hannah, will always be my most special memory. As I write this with tears streaming down my cheeks, I can remember so vividly the feelings of both overwhelming love and uncertainty happening at the exact same time for this little being. There was a distinctive shift from the Marjorie before Hannah to Marjorie as mother and guardian. I could feel the surge of emotion and strength as I embarked on this new and powerful role in my life. She is 24 years old now and is an incredible singer, songwriter and vibrant human. She fills me up and gives purpose to my life. She is my greatest moment and memory.
How do you recharge?
I recharge through dance. It is my life force and power. I find my strength and my humanity in the classroom. Movement is my fuel. It recharges my heart, and while I feel exhausted after a class, there is a resurgence and empowerment that I get from living my passion.
What would you change about society if you had the power?
I would make this a more tolerant and forgiving world, a world that judges you on your character and not the colour of your skin or your religion. We have one planet. We get one shot to be and do our best.
What is your best quality?
Hmm … why, there are just so many. (I’m kidding.) I try very hard to treat everybody with respect and kindness. I love to laugh and make others laugh also. To feel and create great energy around me is key. I guess I’m a true Libra in the sense that I crave beauty and harmony in all forms.
What is attractive in a person?
Humour, confidence, kindness and the ability to apologize when you are wrong are wonderful qualities to have. Oh, and a great body doesn’t hurt, either.
What is your go-to conversation starter at parties?
Well, after I introduce myself (acting it out as I write this), I usually ask, “So, how do you know our host?” (Said with my utmost southern charm.) That usually gets them talking, and before you know it, we’re drinking wine and having a great time.
What interests you right now?
In addition to working on my new book, MG.2, I have started painting again, after taking a three-year break (2014–17) to create my first book, MG. I began painting in my twenties, and though not formally trained, I have always been a huge fan of contemporary art. My father was an avid collector, and as a young girl I was surrounded by the masters: Picasso, Magritte, Miró, Matisse and Dubuffet, to name a few. I have always loved working with paint and creating shapes and textures. Through the years, my art style has become more wild and organic, and now I simply refuse to stay within the lines. I’m having a love affair with the unpredictable nature of paint — where it goes and how it looks when it hits the canvas. The pouring of paint is a recurring theme in my new book, except this time, I’m the canvas, and the paint is my dance partner.
Define la dolce vita (“the sweet life”).
La dolce vita is the quality of your life and how you spend your time with friends and family. For me, it’s the gratitude in your heart and your willingness to love, share and make others feel good, to be of a kind and generous spirit and to smile and remember the small things, to open your eyes and see what’s in front of you and love yourself as the human being you are. Naturally, one should do all this while sitting in a beautiful restaurant, enjoying a tremendous meal and drinking great wine.
What special power or gift do you possess?
My special gift might be that I don’t think I’m special at all. I try to do my best as a mother, an artist and a friend. I’m human. I want to dance like one, feel like one, love like one and simply live each day like one.