The Long Goodbye
Myron Johnson, founder of Ballet of the Dolls, takes a bow—sort of
Q: This month you're dancing your first solo show in 16 years, Songs for a Swan. Is this your swan song?
Myron Johnson: No. But I’d love for everyone to think that. I love farewell tours that never end, living as though every show could be the last.
Q: The Dolls have always had a mischievousness, a heightened sense of reality. Where’d that come from?
MJ: It started with my background in theater—I was in the Moppet Players in the early 1960s, which became the Children’s Theatre Company. Then I studied dance and mime in Paris with Marcel Marceau. Art is a more glamorous business there. I remember a dancer who would wear only head-to-toe metallic silver or metallic gold, and she carried around two poodles. I loved that theatricality.
Q: You brought that glam back with you.
MJ: I made all of my original dancers wear jewelry and gloves, and we took that look onto the street. I think of dancers as characters, as wild people.
Q: Is there a line you won’t cross in surprising an audience?
MJ: I’ve done shows that were totally inappropriate, where I really wanted to disgust the audience. I didn’t care what people thought—I didn’t think that was my concern as an artist. Now I know better where that line is, that I can’t just run around doing whatever I want.
Q: Does that mean you take fewer risks?
MJ: No. If something doesn’t feel risky, I’m not sure it should be done. I get very uncomfortable when I try to fit in. I’m just better at acknowledging the audience—and when I’ve made a piece of crap.
Q: You’re in your late fifties now. Will you still be able to solo the way you’d like?
MJ: I will have no problem just taking a break and saying, “The deejay will entertain you for a minute,” and starting again. The concept includes me; I don’t separate myself from the art.
Myron Johnson performs Songs for a Swan at the Ritz Theater from October 27 to November 6. ritzdolls.com