For our first of 5 Artist Profiles I fondly present my best friend, Robert Lowman. Robert and I have danced together since college and he is one of the best people I know. When I think of someone who I have “grown up” with, it is Robert. We have seen each other through the most beautiful successes and some of the toughest times in dance and in life.
Robert Lowman is a dancer and choreographer in the San Francisco Bay Area. He trained in classical ballet growing up, and received a mark of distinction in his Advanced II Royal Academy of Dance Vocational Examination before earning B.A.’s in Dance and Theater & Performance Studies at UC Berkeley. Robert has danced in original works by Katie Faulkner, Scott Wells, and Marit Brook-Kothlow. He has choreographed for UC Berkeley’s student choreography showcase, the Resident Artist Workshop at The Garage, and Susan Hayward School of Dancing. Robert has received the Mask and Dagger Memorial Prize and the Rosalyn Schneider Eisner Prize.
In my mind, I think I’ve always envisioned the grown-up me as a miraculously impeccable version of myself. In these daydreams, I’ve shed all the insecurities, fears, uncertainties, and loose hangnails that have ever perturbed me; no longer caged in by anxiety or indecision, I expand to fill every last inch of space I physically occupy. And maybe I even radiate a little bit. In this future utopia, my glass is always, unambiguously, irreversibly, 100% full – because future me doesn’t do anything by halves.
As of now, I feel I still have many miles to go before I reach that state, if I ever do. It’s funny, I think I’ve always assumed that growing up would be marked by some kind of momentous occurrence; a crash of thunder wouldn’t seem out of place – although more likely, as a high school student, I envisioned this instant in the age-old American rite of passage of earning my driver’s license. In retrospect, I knew nothing at age 16.
And yet, on the rare occasions when I look at the tiny face still trapped in my ID photo, I feel somehow this image reflects me as I am even now. This article of documentation that identifies a nervous, gangly, teenager spends most of its time crammed in the intimate but decidedly claustrophobic space of my right back jeans pocket, sandwiched between my buttock and various desk chairs, BART seats, and public benches of dubious hygienic status. I don’t look at it much, but maybe one day I’ll pull out the license to find that years of constant intense pressure and body heat have crushed the pimple-faced bespectacled adolescent into an immaculately cut diamond, and I’ll see my grown-up self reflected in the facets. Shut up, who doesn’t want to shine like a diamond?
While I suppose this and other rites of passage do signify some level of maturity, or at least the passage of time, really growing up seems mostly to boil down to trial-and-error. As much as we might hope one moment or decision will finally catapult us unequivocally into full-blown adulthood, in my experience growing up is hardly ever so definitive, and it’s certainly not linear. One minute you’ll be driving home with an overfilled grocery sack of shampoo, toilet paper, Q-tips, toothpaste, and multiple half-gallon buckets of dairy-free butter pecan ice cream, and the next find yourself screaming bloody murder about a speck in the corner of your shower that slightly resembles a spider through the steam and soapy film over your eyes. In these moments, it can feel like the passage of time has done little to mature you.
But when I dance I am ageless; I am full of all the possibilities that are and were and will be me without even trying, without needing to consciously identify the versions and iterations of myself that overlap and intersect with one another. Dance is one of the few activities that makes me feel as if I’m expanding to fill the present. I forget the intense internal monologue that can sometimes ramble for days on end in my mind, dictating my thoughts and limiting my experience to goals and futures I can verbalize. These thoughts no longer seem to matter. Robert the dancer is me, in the present, refusing to do anything by halves.
For me, the process of working on “Grown Ups” has paralleled what it feels like to expand when these limiting thoughts are abandoned. Possibilities are explored as they arise; trial-and-error leads to exciting new discoveries; moments are seized; YOLO. Perhaps the most poignant of these experiences have been in sharing the present as a duet. I cannot imagine a better way to face the tasks at hand, whether in the dance studio or in life, than side-by-side with others who share the same curiosities and fears, hopes and uncertainties. “Grown Ups,” to me, is about the journey that is made easier by sharing it with others.