Side notes from the Side Yard

It’s all in the details.

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Menemsha Harbor, one evening after work.   — Photo by Chloe Jones

A Salt Lake City native, Chloe Jones graduated from Wesleyan University this past May with a double major in dance and Hispanic literatures and cultures. She currently serves as development intern at the Yard, a position which brought her to Martha’s Vineyard for the first time. In less than one month, she has fallen in love with the Island. Her other great loves include dancing, writing, traveling, cooking, and hiking. She will be reporting each week about her experience working at the Yard.

In my final semester at Wesleyan University, I took a class with choreographer and dancer Eiko Otake of modern dancers Eiko & Koma. Eiko will be in residence at the Yard next June, performing her first solo project: “A Body in Places.”

In class, Eiko spoke often about detail. She was fond of saying, “The detail is as important as the whole.”

Here at the Yard we are working toward “a whole,” as we all pool our efforts to realize a larger vision. But what about the small, everyday details?

Stepping onto the back porch of the Side Yard early one morning, I find that a thousand pink petals have arrived in the night.

A wild turkey observes a dance class from outside our open-air studio. I watch an ant muscle a cookie crumb across the countertop — a mighty dance of its own. A moth, the color of a robin’s egg, circles my bedside light.

Artists Myrna Packer and Art Bridgman of Bridgman|Packer Dance — in residence at the Yard last week — met each other years ago in a rehearsal, after which they shared a bowl of pea soup. Listening to Myrna tell the story of how they met, I smile at the inclusion of pea soup. Or maybe I smile because she smiles at the memory of pea soup. A small detail.

With different artists in residence every week, and performances happening every weekend, the Yard depends upon its staff to be detail-oriented. It was clear from week one that nobody here cuts corners.

What if we regarded our surroundings — the world around us — with the same attention we give to our most precious work? It feels possible at the Yard, which is somewhat miraculous to me. Despite being busy from sunrise to well beyond sunset, there is ample space here to breathe, to notice, to take it all in …

To be detail-oriented: to orient oneself toward the details. To cultivate an awareness of the small and the subtle.

I return home to the Side Yard one afternoon to find that someone has placed a single leaf on my pillow. It is red, with green veins.