For a couple of hours one warm September afternoon in 2011, I had the sublime pleasure of watching a quartet of lithe and polished dancers perform a bolero, which was expertly captured by a filmmaker to create the book trailer for my novel.
Now three Septembers later, a memorial will take place this week to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of one of the dancers. Connor Zion was a teenager when I met him that afternoon in the community center space I had rented for the video shoot.
I arrived early but the dancers were already there, looking beautiful the way dancers do, not in a conscious, overt way, but in an easy, effortless knowledge of their physical selves.
Young as he was, Connor was professional in his demeanor and, as I would soon witness, in his performance. He and the other dancers were wholly attuned to direction from the filmmaker, to the mood and pulse of the music, and to each other. It was a charmed afternoon.
At the end of the shoot, I thanked the dancers for their performance and their professionalism. I even thanked them for their beauty. Who can resist youth, beauty, and talent?
I knew I wasn’t likely to see them again. I assumed they would all continue dancing, continue being beautiful, continue making people marvel and chill at their seductive, impassioned moves. Because they enchanted on the dance floor, it was easy to assume they led enchanted lives. But none of us lives in a fairy tale.
What I have learned since receiving news of his death is that, since childhood, Connor suffered from anxiety and later developed epilepsy for which he took medication. For some reason, he went off his medication, which affected his behavior. One day, physically aggressive and clearly not himself, Connor threatened and attacked loved ones, and police were called to contain the situation. An officer emptied his revolver of 18 rounds, hitting Connor multiple times. For good measure, he kicked the downed young man three times in the head. It goes without saying how much is wrong with this picture.
Connor’s lifelong friend Maria told me he left diaries in which he described his desire to help other young people, especially those at risk due to low income, special needs, or other circumstances, to find themselves through dance. Connor’s family and friends have formed the CBZ Foundation to help realize that dream.
If you would like to help fulfill Connor’s dream, you can donate to the foundation. You can also visit the Connor Bishop Zion Memorial page to find out more about Connor and what he accomplished in his too-brief life.
I’ve always loved my book trailer. Even though it was meant as a vehicle to promote my novel, it stands on its own as a piece of artistry, thanks to the filmmakers, but thanks also to the dancers who are its essence.
Watch the video, even if you’ve seen it before. Watch it not as a book promo, but simply as a performance of a beautiful bolero—the dance of love. Lose yourself in its slow, dreamy tempo. Be transfixed by the smooth, liquid grace of the dancers. Watch Connor Zion doing what he loved.