Photo: What Dance Can Do Project
Thank you for the question, tut4thewin!
Awww… performing. Without a doubt, my most favorite thing to do. I love stepping out in to the lights and sharing an evening with an audience. Magic happens. I swear, there is magic in the air at a theater. It is just waiting for you to ignite it.
My favorite moment when performing is when you are so “in” to the show that you can just play. The mind no longer has to focus on everything it has been instructed to do from the previous weeks. Everything clicks. All emotions become pure and your own physical boundaries get pushed! It’s just you up there without your coaches helping hand. Time to own the stage. It’s exhilarating.
For weeks before a performance your head is filled with a lot of input from your coaches. Corrections, portrayal, emotions, counts, stage left, stage right, downstage, upstage… It can become numbing when you have so many things to remember in the same second.
But, this part of the process cannot be skipped. You need to know all of these things in order to present your best self and in order to reach the best overall production. Some days are frustrating. Some days are tiring. But in the end you are always very grateful for having a team working with you and helping you along the way. You couldn’t do it without them.
When you finally get to the performing step of the process, the mind starts to calm. That’s when you can start to lose yourself in the moment. It is the most amazing moment when performing. It may not happen on your first performance. Usually, you need at least one run under your belt. But then, an extra boost of confidence comes. Your body is automatically doing the steps, you know all your cues like the back of your hand and the opportunity to play has arrived. Play with holding a balance here, stretch the musicality there, add an extra turn where you can, when you can, steal another glance at your partner… There is nothing more joyous then getting to the level of playing on stage. It brings you on a high that you don’t ever want to come down from.
As I was writing this, the ballet that kept creeping in to my mind was, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Christopher Wheeldon. This ballet was a huge challenge to take on. The role of Alice has many specific instructions and steps. Have to look at the clock on count 2, of the fifth 8…. etc. And Alice is always moving. Always!
It took a long time to learn all of it and then to remember all of it, and then again to become comfortable with all of it. But I’ve never felt more rewarded by a role then Alice. Especially the second time the Royal Danish Ballet put up Alice, I found that I was really able to start to play on stage. I still crave that feeling after performances. I had some of my best performances to date. Out doing my own expectations of myself, which I’d never experienced before. I can be a pretty tough cookie on myself. 😉
And I was having so much fun! Every night after I played Alice, I couldn’t sleep. I was still so much in Alice’s world… replaying the night’s highlights over and over again in my head. Those shows felt like magic. Igniting that magic that exists in a theater so one can play, live on stage, is the best moment of performing.