After reading They Marched Into Sunlight, a powerful book about two days during the Vietnam War, written by Pulitzer Prize Winning journalist David Maraniss, Robin Becker, Artistic Director of Robin Becker Dance, felt compelled to create an evening-length dance.
Deeply moved by the integrity, honor, and commitment of both those who fought the war, and those who fought against it, Robin Becker embarked upon the creation of this dance hoping that the universal language of the body would reflect and offer the same sense of healing that David’s words evoked in her.
In the audience during the company’s performance at Georgetown University was Lieutenant Clark Welch, one of the featured veterans in David’s book. Lieutenant Clark Welch was one of the most decorated soldiers during Vietnam. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his action at the battle of Ong Thanh, and also three Silver Stars, four Bronze Stars and five Purple Hearts for his service.
Lt. Clark Welch (January 3, 1940 – April 12, 2016) with the dancers of Robin Becker Dance
After studying Clark’s history through the book, he became one of the lead inspirations for many of the dancers, and they were remarkably honored to meet him personally.
Sadly, this past spring, Clark Welch passed away. Now, Robin Becker Dance continues to honor his legacy through dedicating Into Sunlight to him.
Clark’s wife, Lacy Welch, shares with us the impact the dance work Into Sunlight had on her and Clark:
“Into Sunlight made a profound impression on both Clark and me. When we first heard that there was to be a dance about the book, we were skeptical (camo tutus and combat boots?) Then, Clark went to the opening night performance; he called me to tell how beautiful and overpowering the dance was. The act portraying his fallen soldiers turning into angels mirrored his hopes that his men who had made the supreme sacrifice were transformed by their actions. He was moved to tears by the dance.”
“Clark’s life has always been about the responsibility and stewardship of those who came within his circle. He carried those emotions with him forever, particularly towards his beloved Delta company, and he felt that “Into Sunlight” reflected and honored those soldiers, indeed, all those who go in harm’s way. He came home with great anger towards the actions and after actions of the battle and struggled with what he saw as a betrayal by his Army that he loved and revered and he carried that anger for the rest of his life, but I think that some of his anguish was assuaged by the Dance. I know that he remained grateful that the experience had been so meaningfully and beautifully portrayed.”
Because of these strong reactions to the work, similar to Clark’s, Robin Becker Dance is now committed to sharing this piece to a wider military audience. The grant from the DVNF has helped us bring excerpts of Into Sunlight, along with movement workshops directly to the veterans, most recently at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. As this partnership continues, it is our mission to help facilitate feelings of hope, healing and understanding to many more military families.
Stephanie Grover is the Administrator of Robin Becker Dance. For more information about Into Sunlight, visit www.robinbeckerdance.org.
Also take a look at the Robin Becker Dance Facebook page.