A choreographer comes forward: “I have made a dance to Dylan.”

[ed. note: I received this email last night, from choreographer Janis Brenner]
Someone referred me to your excellent site because of your dialogue on Tharp and Dylan. I love the whole conversation. I do want to let you know that in 1995-96 I made a work to several Dylan songs, entitled “What About Bob” (before there was a movie…), which first uses really outrageous renditions of Dylan classics — “sung” (butchered) by Sebastian Cabot and William Shatner — and then finally the real Dylan, in “Like A Rolling Stone” and “It Ain’t Me Babe.” The piece goes from truly absurd to rather poignant.
Literally yesterday, I was in rehearsal reviving the final duet section, created with dancer-choreographer Richard Siegal, for a spot on my 25th anniversary season coming up this February 1-4. Richard and I were discussing the fact that I had made this work more than ten years ago, and recalled being quite nervous about attempting to do ANYTHING to Dylan, a childhood hero of mine.
We did tour the work on and off for a few years, and it was always much better received than I had ever anticipated. I think if I had created the work soley to the famous Dylan songs and not had the terrible/hilarious versions first, the piece might never have worked. I was saved by Shatner (doing “Mr. Tambourine Man”) and Cabot, and the idea of a rather twisted tribute to folk music and folk dance.
When I heard that Twyla Tharp was attemping a full-scale, Broadway production to Dylan…well, I must say, I was worried for her right from the outset. I was lucky, and kept my love for and tribute to him small-scale and encased in other ideas.
So, yes, and why not!? Someone should put together an evening of individual, small-scale Dylan interpretations. If it’s done, we’ll be ready. Come see our absurd-yet-heartfelt duet in February. And thank you for all this astute, necesssary dance dialogue.
Janis Brenner

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