The author traces her development as a dancer during of the decade between 1968 and 1979, a pivotal era in Black/white relations, women's rights, and other significant developments in social traditions. The sanctions that thread through the American fabric to limit black lives can be seen in the description of her journey, which looks forward to her eventual success but focuses more often on her difficulties in balancing the aspirational needs of her "trickster body" with the responsibilities of family life on a small-town campus. Meditative interludes take us back to Easter's upbringing in Richmond, Virginia, in the midst of a highly talented family of musicians and educators, and the recollections of her elder family members take us back to the era of slavery and abduction. Dance enthusiasts and anyone familiar with the highly charged emotional climate of a modern dance troupe will enjoy her descriptions of joining, managing, and creating dances for such a group.
Mary Moore Easter is the author of four poetry books, From the Flutes of Our Bones (2021); The Body of the World, Minnesota Book Award in Poetry Finalist, (2019), Walking from Origins, and Free Papers: poems inspired by the testimony of Eliza Winston, a Mississippi slave escaped to freedom in Minnesota in 1860 (2022). Her poems have been published in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Christian Century, Water~Stone, SoFloPoJo and other publications as well as several anthologies. She gives numerous public readings in Minnesota and from coast to coast. Her work has also been used as texts for art songs —she was Poet-in-Residence for the 2022 Source Song Festival—and on library-sponsored poetry trails.
Born during segregation, in Petersburg, Virginia, to parents on the faculty of Virginia State College (now University), Mary Moore Easter was as immersed in their artistic and intellectual interests as she was in the limitations that segregation imposed on her Black world. Her adult career as an independent dancer/choreographer and founder and director of Carleton College's dance program overlapped with writing as a Cave Canem Fellow at the foundation for African American poetry. Her awards include: Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board (2020), Pushcart Prize-nominations, Bush Artist Fellowship in Choreography, multiple McKnight Awards in Interdisciplinary Arts, The Loft Literary Center's Creative Non-Fiction Award, and residencies at Ragdale and The Anderson Center. Easter holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence and an M.A. in Music for Dancers from Goddard. She retired from formal teaching with the title: Rae Schupack Nathan Professor of Dance and the Performing Arts Emerita.
In 2022, Carleton College named the new studios in the Weitz Center for Creativity to honor her legacy: the Mary Easter Dance Studios.
"In 'The Way She Wants to Get There,' Mary Moore Easter has penned a powerful, absorbing memoir of her decade-long journey toward becoming the dancer/choreographer for whom the dance studio at Carleton College would eventually be named. Her poetic voice comes through on every page, imbuing this remarkable work with characters and images that linger long after the final page is turned." - Carolyn Holbrook
" 'The Way She Wants to Get There' narrates a riveting life of courage, sass, adventure, and attainment. As agile with language as she is with what she terms her 'trickster body,' Mary Moore Easter gives the reader a visceral jolt of her experience as a Black woman who finds her dance, and a whole lot more. Easter's memoir engages us in the process that a professional dancer must undergo to braid the physicality of an athlete with the eloquence of a poet. From her battles to master technique to her struggles to attain agency and artistry against considerable odds, Easter discloses how dance helped her to find a sense of wholeness and belonging. Along the way she embeds us in her family history, the civil rights movement, and a voyage of discovery that led from the segregated South to the seemingly placid plains of Northfield, Minnesota." - Linda Shapiro
"Mary Hardie Moore Easter is the consummate artist/poet/musician/writer. I delighted in her brilliant phrasing and memorable descriptions. It was a joy to enter the settings, delight in the chronicling, be carried away by the rhythms, and marvel at her skill in, not so much telling a story, as painting pictures and dramatizing events." - Daryl Cumber Dance