Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
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#165 Renée E. D’Aoust: One of the Most Difficult Things that a Human Can Do

Renée E. D’Aoust was raised on Bainbridge Island in the Puget Sound, where it was so much fun growing up around her mother and her two older brothers. At school, Renée refused to play any sports and was sometimes called into the counselor’s office because of it. But Renée always wanted to be a ballet dancer, and, at 8, she signed herself up for ballet lessons, then studied ballet every day after that until she was 16. Renée regrets not attending the Royal Winnipeg School of Ballet summer school when she was 16, but is glad that she went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts summer session in New York City instead—a precursor to her living there. At 21, Renée packed up her little car and moved from the Puget Sound area to Missoula, Montana, but it did not go well. She moved 8 times in 2 years and also broke her jaw in a terrible bicycle accident. But she also got a dance scholarship from the Montana Dance Arts Association and that’s how she moved to New York City to be a dancer, which was awesome. Renée spent most of her money on dance lessons and was mostly broke, so she walked everywhere to save money. She performed in little black box spaces and was almost always sore, exhausted. It was a blast, though, and the best part was knowing so many people doing so many incredible things. There was a great sense of possibility. After that, Renée went back to college, at Columbia University, and studied literature and writing (eventually getting an MFA in creative writing from Notre Dame). She wanted to create something that would last longer than dance. Years later, Renée went through one of the most difficult times in her life—when her brother, Ian (who had a Ph.D. in American history from Yale) died from multiple sclerosis. During this time, Renée lived with her parents again and helped them however she could. Renée still misses Ian so much. To face grief is one of the most difficult things that a human can do. The other thing you should know about Renée is that she is really nutty about dogs. Renée’s dog Truffle is a hound dog and she is writing a book about him. In fact, about 3 years ago, Renée swore off men and decided that she would live with a series of dogs, Truffle being the first, but then her graduate school roommate suggested that Renée meet a man named Daniele because he was unique, but in a different way than Renée was unique. But Renée did not want to meet Daniele because he was an electrical engineer who rode a bicycle and she had spent 5 years off-and-on with another electrical engineer who rode a bicycle. Now Renée and Daniele live part-time in Switzerland (his post-doctorate at a university there) and part-time in Idaho (where Renée teaches; she loves the returning adult students at North Idaho College). Renée loves that Daniele holds her hand when she gets scared on top of mountains and reminds her that her feet are on the ground. She thinks Truffle understands. Now Renée writes every day and she will keep writing no matter what. Also, often, Renée plants seedlings on her family’s forestland in Idaho, over 2,000 so far, and she wishes for every one of her trees to grow.

[Update: Today, July 22, 2009, Renée E. D’Aoust will marry Daniele.]

A Dance Review of Nicole Seiler

Theatrical Release
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#184 The Art That Is Stephanie Barber

Stephanie Barber was born on Long Island and her childhood was complicated, chaotic. She didn’t enjoy that. She moved more than a dozen times as a child and chunks of time were lived in Florida and Pennsylvania. There were times when she swam in the ocean and there were often a lot of musicians around. When she was 6, Stephanie knew that she wanted to be a writer and started typing out her poems because she thought published poems were typed. When she was 8, Stephanie had a ballet recital that went particularly well, and, after the show, as she was driven home in her father’s convertible, she stood up in her seat and pumped her bouquet-filled fist into the sky in triumph. Sometimes, Stephanie thinks of that moment and how she never feels that unadulterated pride and joy after a performance or a screening. Stephanie regrets not having become a child star. Growing up, Stephanie was bizarrely serious and very religious (even though nobody in her family really was). She decided she was Catholic and walked by herself to church on Sunday mornings. She even talked her way onto a cheerleading squad at the Catholic school, which she did not attend. Stephanie thought that she was cheering for God or Jesus. Eventually, the Catholics realized that she was not one of them and wouldn’t let her cheer anymore. When Stephanie was 12, she fell out of the church and today she is a sort of lazy spiritualist. In high school, Stephanie studied playwriting and ballet at a performing arts school. In college, she studied film and anthropology and poetry. In graduate school, she studied film and poetry. Stephanie became interested in making films because the more experimental films she had seen seemed rooted in poetics. Stephanie reads a lot. She is an artist, a filmmaker, a videomaker, a performer, a writer, and, sometimes, a musician. The way that Stephanie believes in art has a religious fervor. There is a purposefulness that sometimes assuages the angry muddled tenor of her existence. As an adult, Stephanie has lived in 9 different cities. Whenever you see her anywhere, she is almost always smiling or laughing. To get by, she always gets different funny jobs for money—shoveling gravel, selling snakes, teaching water aerobics to senior citizens, college professor, street performer, freelance editor, adoption counselor at an SPCA, phone psychic. Other than where she is living and what job she has and who she is romantically involved with, Stephanie is pretty consistent. She doesn't have too many decisions to make. When she moved to Baltimore, she bought a house that used to be a corner grocery and leaks. It was full of groceries when she moved in, but the groceries are all gone now. Soon, she will move again. She will get her first professional job and win a large grant. She will write a novel and fall in large love.

More Stephanie Barber
Photo Credit: Joe Milutis
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#165 Renée E. D’Aoust: One of the Most Difficult Things that a Human Can Do

Renée E. D’Aoust was raised on Bainbridge Island in the Puget Sound, where it was so much fun growing up around her mother and her two older brothers. At school, Renée refused to play any sports and was sometimes called into the counselor’s office because of it. But Renée always wanted to be a ballet dancer, and, at 8, she signed herself up for ballet lessons, then studied ballet every day after that until she was 16. Renée regrets not attending the Royal Winnipeg School of Ballet summer school when she was 16, but is glad that she went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts summer session in New York City instead—a precursor to her living there. At 21, Renée packed up her little car and moved from the Puget Sound area to Missoula, Montana, but it did not go well. She moved 8 times in 2 years and also broke her jaw in a terrible bicycle accident. But she also got a dance scholarship from the Montana Dance Arts Association and that’s how she moved to New York City to be a dancer, which was awesome. Renée spent most of her money on dance lessons and was mostly broke, so she walked everywhere to save money. She performed in little black box spaces and was almost always sore, exhausted. It was a blast, though, and the best part was knowing so many people doing so many incredible things. There was a great sense of possibility. After that, Renée went back to college, at Columbia University, and studied literature and writing (eventually getting an MFA in creative writing from Notre Dame). She wanted to create something that would last longer than dance. Years later, Renée went through one of the most difficult times in her life—when her brother, Ian (who had a Ph.D. in American history from Yale) died from multiple sclerosis. During this time, Renée lived with her parents again and helped them however she could. Renée still misses Ian so much. To face grief is one of the most difficult things that a human can do. The other thing you should know about Renée is that she is really nutty about dogs. Renée’s dog Truffle is a hound dog and she is writing a book about him. In fact, about 3 years ago, Renée swore off men and decided that she would live with a series of dogs, Truffle being the first, but then her graduate school roommate suggested that Renée meet a man named Daniele because he was unique, but in a different way than Renée was unique. But Renée did not want to meet Daniele because he was an electrical engineer who rode a bicycle and she had spent 5 years off-and-on with another electrical engineer who rode a bicycle. Now Renée and Daniele live part-time in Switzerland (his post-doctorate at a university there) and part-time in Idaho (where Renée teaches; she loves the returning adult students at North Idaho College). Renée loves that Daniele holds her hand when she gets scared on top of mountains and reminds her that her feet are on the ground. She thinks Truffle understands. Now Renée writes every day and she will keep writing no matter what. Also, often, Renée plants seedlings on her family’s forestland in Idaho, over 2,000 so far, and she wishes for every one of her trees to grow.

A Dance Review of Nicole Seiler

Theatrical Release
Comments (2)
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