Maydelle Fason

The first dance performances I saw were at the Armadillo World Headquarters, where nachos and beer were sold throughout the shows,” says 29-year-old Maydelle Fason. Who could guess that this experience would eventually inspire the former Austinite to pursue a career in cutting-edge dance? As a teenager, Fason received a scholarship to the School of American Ballet in New York City, then took an apprenticeship with the New York City Ballet. But modern dance attracted her, so in 1992 she returned to Austin, where she performed with the Sharir Dance Company. Four years later, she was selected for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company—a venerable group that is still radical enough to evoke strong audience responses. “On my first tour we were in a small town in Germany,” she recalls, “and someone stood up in a packed house and screamed in German, ‘You’re all crazy! You’re all crazy!’” Fortunately, that only encouraged her. This month she is back in Europe, touring on a rigorous schedule that frequently involves daily rehearsals and nightly performances. But that suits her just fine. “Some of the best shows come out of the nights when you’re most fatigued,” she says, “because you’re not taking things too seriously or making it too precious.”

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