So if you couldn’t tell, I have been a bit absent the last few weeks. I traveled to Kansas City to dance with a company and let me tell you, it was a tougher than petrified dog poo.
As always, it was a grueling process; trying to put together an entire performance within 3 weeks. The dancers learn the majority of the choreography off videos of when the company had done the dance, or what we call a “piece,” in previous years. And if you were ever one of those teenagers who tried to learn a dance off of a popular music video, you know it’s not that easy to do.
Usually these pieces are anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes in length and we also have to take into account that we’re seeing the choreography from the view of the audience. If the dancers were doing a movement that stepped with their left foot, since you’re facing them, it would look like your right. Not only do we need to learn the actual movement, but we have to turn it around so we are doing the choreography in the correct direction.
Learning off a video does become easier after a while, but it’s still a much slower process than if someone were teaching you the movement directly.
Ok, now that you have THAT useless knowledge in your brain, I can get on with the rest of my post.
The season started out on the wrong foot when a casting fiasco sent my confidence into the crapper. I tried quitting not once, but two different times (BTW, that’s not like me. At all.). I’m not going into any details, but this was a huge reason why you barely heard a peep from me throughout my time in the Midwest. I was just plain ole sad. And bitter. Oooh, and defeated. And definitely honked off.
Feeling bummed out did not motivate me to blog so I simply didn’t. Anywho, I frickin’-a made it through, which I have to say was quite impressive, because some days, I honestly did not see how I would get myself to the end of the season.
Ok. That’s enough of my whine fest.
Only a couple days into our season, one of my favorite dancers managed to scratch his cornea. Within a couple days, his eye developed an infection. Well, that infection did not waste any time and started literally eating away at his poor cornea. Exactly one week from when he first scratched his eye, he was in surgery undergoing a corneal transplant! Needless to say, he couldn’t finish out the season.
We had to find a male dancer to take his place asap. Luckily, a dancer from NY had been in town teaching some master classes, so he just stuck around to fill in for a couple more weeks.
Meanwhile, I began working on a brand new duet the artistic director was choreographing. We’re 3 days into the process and my duet partner’s back started killing him and he didn’t feel he could take on the duet as well as all the other pieces too.
So scratch that piece off the list.
The next day I was told I’d be doing a love duet with the apprentice. With less than a week to learn it, get it into our bodies (so we’re not having to think about what comes next on stage) and smooth out the kinks with the lifts, difficult steps, etc., we most definitely had our work cut out for us. And then on top of everything else, I felt my right adductor (inner thigh) and hamstring start to tweak.
I was making deals with God, praying that if those mother’s would hold up through the performances, I’d never kill another bug. Ever. However, driving back to San Diego from KC at the completion of the performance, my windshield was proof that I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain.
Growing closer to opening night, we had just started learning a 15 minute long piece that seemed like it was the same 5 movements over and over again only in different patterns. One would think, “Only 5 movements? Aw, easy peasy!” Um, not in this instance.
Normally, if you had more time to get the piece into your muscle memory where you don’t have to think about which combination of movement comes next, it would be pretty easy. But with all the choreography being so similar, it wasn’t uncommon to lapse into a totally different combo because, although the movements were the same, they always seemed to be in a different order.
This is what I call brain gas. You’re not having just one brain fart, your brain is ripping ’em all over the place.
Dress rehearsal comes and goes and can you say, “Hot mess?” I made mistakes I never before made and apparently others felt the same way about their performance. But you know what they say, “Bad dress rehearsal, awesome show.” And somehow, we miraculously pulled it together for opening night.
As nerve-wracking as the process was right up to when that curtain opened up, once we were on the stage, I came to the realization that despite the disagreements, snotty comments, the tears, frustration and unfairness, all of that caca is pushed out of your mind and you are forced to be present with your fellow company members. We worked our butts off for this moment and we were all in it together.
Check out the review of the performance here!
During every season I repeat to myself that there’s no way I’m coming back to put up with this poop parade the next season. And yet, after the final show, I hear myself telling the artistic director, “I’ll be back.”
What in the world keeps me coming back???
I definitely don’t dance for the pay. Goat herders make more than most dancers. And it’s not the praise from the audience. I have such a hard time accepting a compliment, I’d almost rather them not say anything at all.
I could get all psychological and spout out that dance is a gigantic part of my identity and without it, I don’t know who I’d be, or that sticking with it has something to do with my lack of self-confidence.
I’m sure both those reasons are valid, but I think a big reason why I continue coming back over and over would be the other dancers themselves.
It’s the energy you create with them on stage; the instant bond you share as soon as you step foot in the studio to rehearse, the deep trust you develop as you put your life in your partners hands during a risky lift, the kind of friendship that flourishes where you can go for years without talking to the other person and once you see them, you pick right back up where you left off.
Dancers tend to be a different breed. Period. Most of the time (I say most of the time because, there are those diva’s out there that think they are the end all be all. As I’m sure you can guess, these words do not pertain to them…) you are in a safe zone when you are around other dancers. You can be yourself and a total dork without being judged. You’re accepted.
They’re your travel buddies, roommates, shoulders to cry on, partners in crime, memory makers and best friends. They become your second family or even closer than your actual family.
I know I just sounded like a Hallmark card or one of those lovey dovey dog food commercials where they’re describing our K-9 companions (by the way, I love those commercials), but it’s absolutely true. Dancers are some of the most amazing people I know.
And that’s what I can’t stay away from.