I’ve lived my whole daily life in the arts. As a younger singer, then dancer, then producer, my route in this earth has been by way of the executing arts — dance in distinct — during comparatively peaceful periods in our place. Two many years in the past, in my past yr residing in New York Metropolis, in which I worked as the controlling director/associate producer for the Decrease Manhattan Cultural Council at the Planet Trade Heart, my existence viewpoint transformed.
On 9/11, my New York Town-primarily based brother, John Phillip, was out of city, and our mother experienced just arrived to see my exhibits. 4 times ahead of that fateful day, I had excitedly introduced my acceptance of an present to transfer again to Texas and run TITAS listed here in Dallas. The prepare was to finish our season of exhibits at the Entire world Trade Centre in September, changeover to a new director/producer in October, then shift to Dallas in November 2001. It didn’t very take place that way.
Inside my 9/11 story, there is the route of my survival, and there is the route of terrifying revelations. We offered dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp on Sept. 8, 2001. I was photographing the functionality and exploring the viewers. Through intermission, Tharp was executing a Q-and-A in the audience. I was coming out from backstage to photograph the viewers, and there was a male at the edge of the stage praying. It was bizarre mainly because of his place, and it experienced under no circumstances occurred just before, unquestionably not at the edge of the stage positioned amongst the Twin Towers. I requested stability to you should escort the man or woman to anyplace else in the plaza, since he could not be at the edge of our stage through a live efficiency. It was so strange that I turned all around and took a photo of him, imagining it would be yet another NYC overall performance tale, and went on with performing the display.
That Sunday we were being dim, with no clearly show. On Monday, our presentation of David Gordon Dance was rained out. Tuesday, 9/11, commenced usually. I skipped a morning meeting in Home windows of the Environment on best of the North Tower, as I was to function late with Parsons Dance Corporation that evening.
Into the maelstrom
I lived at 120th Street and Amsterdam Avenue on the much Higher West Aspect. As I arrived out of the subway that early morning at the Environment Trade Heart, the two towers had by now been strike, and it was chaos in the fiscal district.
Not imagining that they could possibly drop, I was ridiculously close to the properties as they were being burning. The horror of individuals jumping from upper flooring was occurring, although in the second, it was tough to register that those people had been people today in the air. I was standing next to St. Paul’s Chapel throughout from Globe Trade Middle Tower 5, wanting for the LMCC workers in the weeping and stunned group.
My twin brother, George, termed correct then and requested if I was secure. I reported no but that I would call him back again, that I was wanting for the staff members. I hung up, and one 2nd later on the South Tower came down, straight down. It was stunning and unquestionably terrifying. All we could do was run as the large debris cloud overtook us in seconds with wonderful power, and straight away we have been surrounded in darkness and silence mainly because you could not see or breathe.
All the screaming stopped. That was authentic fear. Truthfully, this was the most scared and shocked I have ever been in my life.
Considering again now, it is all a sequence of visuals. I was sporting a dress T-shirt, slacks and cowboy boots. The debris cloud was dim, dense and powerfully frightening. It experienced an unforgettable scent.
We ran, then walked, climbing more than vehicles as we looked for making partitions to lean on to guidebook the way. There was a guy, less than a bridge, on crutches and 1 leg attempting to escape. A girl and I tied a scarf on his deal with so that he could breathe. I by no means saw him again, however he remains, to this working day, a haunting impression for me.
Intuition and panic took in excess of as we could not see two toes inside of the massive debris cloud. Cellphones went lifeless, so there was no way to phone my spouse or any individual else to say I was Ok. As I arrived out of the debris cloud someplace south of Chinatown, my twin brother got as a result of on my phone. I was in tears but told him I was Alright. I normally remember the concern I have of shedding a single of my brothers, primarily my twin brother. It is a pretty specific bond. I bear in mind imagining about how upset he experienced to be in Houston.
I recall imagining that I was in New York Metropolis, in The usa, and I was in the center of a war zone, and I was heading to die. I was not a soldier I was an artist whose whole lifestyle experienced been in the arts, and I was in a war zone.
I was fully gray, covered in ash and mud and wholly exhausted. It was like a scene from a zombie movie. The New York City streets were vacant of cars and trucks, and there had been so a lot of of us walking little by little, unfocused and included in soot.
I lastly acquired to a friend’s household on Sixth Avenue and 10th Road and was able to leave a concept for my partner, Rick, and arrived at my mom to enable her know I was Okay. All transportation was useless in New York Town. Rick could only get our truck as far south as Radio Town Tunes Hall. I borrowed some roller blades and bladed north till I obtained to him and was securely residence, approximately 10 hours later.
Value of remembering
When I talk about the working experience, I tell pupils right now that they see the illustrations or photos and horror on the two-dimensional Television screen, but they have no plan what genuine panic seems like and smells like. I explain to them that they have to comprehend the decline of lifetime, the affect on culture and how deeply authentic this was.
I attempt to view at minimum a person documentary a calendar year to make guaranteed I never fail to remember or choose for granted my tremendous great fortune. A lot of of my colleagues from the Port Authority died. A good friend from the Port Authority, Tina, who is a quadriplegic, was fortunately carried down dozens of tales by good persons, and survived. After that knowledge, she and her fiancé resolved to cease ready for whichever reason and get married to take pleasure in the gift of her survival.
Luckily, all of us from LMCC built it out. Two artists experienced expended the evening in our studios on the 92nd ground the night in advance of. Just one died.
Following I achieved security, I commenced the peculiar interval of having to enable folks know I was alive. Certainly, I’m Okay. No, I wasn’t in the setting up. And of course, I did make it out. Just about every contact usually takes an emotional toll. Rick and my mom have been awesome. For months, I had a cough, but the health practitioner claimed I would be great. It took many years to totally get better.
The praying man
Prior to I go any more, I want to relate the “path of horrifying revelations.” I described the gentleman praying on Sept. 8 at the phase. On Sept. 13, as I was building and answering phone calls about my perfectly-becoming, I gained a connect with from a dancer buddy who had long gone to the Globe Trade Middle on Sept. 10 to see David Gordon and located the phase empty and the function canceled simply because of rain. But he mentioned to me, “Charles, the strangest factor: There was a guy, in the rain, standing at the still left stop of the stage praying.” It was then that I understood that he was not experiencing Mecca and was praying to the towers. It most possible intended that he knew what was about to take place, that men and women among the us understood what was about to transpire. He had been coming for days praying.
I promptly called my boss Liz Thompson and associated the tale. She was stunned and a little freaked out. As we were about to satisfy with the total staff members for the first time, Liz asked me not to explain to this tale. It was too disturbing. We were being a team of artists/producers, and there was a large amount of survivor guilt and publish-traumatic stress in the group. I did, having said that, fulfill with the FBI and give them all the information: what I could remember of his seems, the name of the stability guard who moved him on Saturday, and the point that I had taken shots of him on Sept. 10.
The FBI experimented with to get well the movie, but every thing we had was dropped. All I have of my time at the Entire world Trade Center is my WTC All Pass. It was at minimum a calendar year in advance of we relayed the total tale to the LMCC employees. It was a few many years right before I went back to Floor Zero.
The 7 days immediately after 9/11, on Monday, the LMCC staff came alongside one another. The New York Condition Council on the Arts presented us with a locked room and grief counselors, and we talked for a entire working day. It was incredibly private, extremely agonizing, with everyone relating his or her tale. Liz hardly escaped the North Tower just after the Home windows on the World breakfast conference. The people today she satisfied with, from the meeting I skipped, all died. Tricia and I were being the two caught in the particles blast. She was on the south side of the South Tower and was thrown into a smaller cafe. I was on the north aspect. That workers of LMCC from 2001 will often be sure jointly, like veterans.
A healing encounter
Also that 7 days, my buddies at Broadway Cares identified as me following they realized I was Ok, and they presented me tickets to Kiss Me, Kate, to choose a crack and have an night that would take me out of my 9/11 working experience. I did not really want to go, but my mom was in New York Metropolis, and I felt I ought to take her to one thing.
That performance, that piece of art, was singularly the most therapeutic, most important catalyst in my psychological restoration from my 9/11 encounter. To detach from the actuality of what we had been all likely by, what was taking place in my nation, my personal encounter, survivor guilt and psychological trauma, and to leap into a entire world of audio and dance for a couple hours was far more soul-restorative than something else. We stepped into another earth, for a couple of hrs, and recharged, re-impressed and healed just plenty of. I was so grateful, and so happy to be performing in a industry that can make that form of magic transpire.
For the relaxation of September, Rick and I employed our truck to help deliver foodstuff and beverages donated from eating places to Floor Zero. I took my mom to see the residing memorial that Union Square had grow to be. It was heart-wrenching, powerful and lovely. I finished up assisting to generate a benefit for the firemen’s fund at the Joyce Theater on the last Saturday of September 2001. That Sunday, I boarded an empty airplane for Dallas, and on Monday I started off at TITAS. Now, 20 yrs later on, I am grateful for the innovative environment I are living in. I’m grateful for the neighborhood I have all over me, and grateful for all the persons who stepped up to aid every person afflicted by 9/11. I identify the worth of remembering. I now definitely take pleasure in, or — much more accurately — fully grasp, the sacrifice veterans designed with their services and survival.
Remembering is not morbid it is critical. Please do not forget what occurred 20 decades back. Honor people we shed and the hurt finished to our nation. Go and get encouraged by excellent artwork or a fantastic general performance. You may be amazed how very important that practical experience can be. Invest time with these you contemplate relatives.
While we are dwelling in nuts instances proper now, celebrate that we are below to expertise the joys and tribulations everyday living throws at us. On a positive take note, 1 of the most amazing items that I have knowledgeable in tragedies and crises is the remarkable human spirit and desire to help that emerges. Be one particular of these folks.
Charles Santos is govt director/inventive director of TITAS/Dance Unbound in Dallas.
Local creative directors will keep a special panel discussion on “9/11 and the Arts” by using Zoom on Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. Panelists will contain Ian Derrer of the Dallas Opera, Charles Santos of TITAS/Dance Unbound, Ben Stevenson of Texas Ballet Theater, Melissa Younger of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Kevin Moriarty of Dallas Theater Middle, and Alexandra Hernandez of Anita N. Martinez Ballet Folklorico. Chris Heinbaugh, vice president of external affairs for the AT&T Performing Arts Center, will moderate. To be part of the webinar, click this hyperlink, or watch it stay on the AT&T Executing Arts Center’s Facebook page.