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I think there’s something enchanting about the word serendipity, which is the title of our upcoming DPC concert. Wikipedia says it’s “the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it. The word has been voted one of the ten English words hardest to translate in June 2004 by a British translation company.”

Dani Kuepper, Kim Johnson, Liz Tesch and Joelle Worm are creating pieces based on their individual definitions, and it got us at Danceworks talking about it. For example:

Once upon a time there were two 15-year-olds who went to Riverside High School.

She was new to the school, and they passed each other in the hall one day. He noticed her and was smitten. He was very shy, funny and athletic. She was very introspective and preferred music to sports. He became best friends with her brother. They graduated, he went to Europe and she moved to New York.


Riverside A’Capella Choir


Riverside Junior Varsity Football Team

Then, 25 years later she is home for Christmas, divorced and depressed. After spending the day making (eating, mostly) cookies with her mother, she heads out in a snowstorm to buy a Christmas gift for the man she is dating in North Carolina, where she now lives. With her head down against the wind, wearing a baseball cap under a tied hood, she hears her name. Thinking it might be God, she stops and looks up.

The halo of the streetlight casts a glow over a tall man in a long black coat. His collar is up, hands in pockets. He is squinting against the icy air but he looks directly into her eyes. She says his name. They exchange a few words, she kicks herself for having ignored him years earlier and continues on.

The next morning her father wakes her to join him and her mom and the man in the black coat for coffee. “He stopped by to say hi. Heard about Mom’s cancer. Said he ran into you yesterday and didn’t have a proper hello. Come on down!”

With her one-inch hair sticking up in all directions, wearing a large flannel shirt and sweat pants, she shuffles into the kitchen. His black coat is flung over the chair and he is smiling at her. They all talk. She flies back to North Carolina the next day.

One year later, home again for Christmas, her mother says, “Guess who’s coming for Christmas dinner?”

But when they all sit down to eat, he’s not there. She looks at her brother and says, “Well, where is he?”

“I don’t know. He’s shy. Give him a call.”


Debbie and Todd – happily ever after!

She does. He comes. They top dinner off with a gin and tonic at Harry’s on Downer, telecommute for a year, get married. She moves to Milwaukee and becomes Executive Director of Danceworks.

Serendipity—running into an old friend unexpectedly.

What’s your definition?

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