It’s over – summer session, that is. Classes are on break until the end of the month. And now that I’ve had some time to process everything a little more, I’m ready to talk about my summer.
Our little summer performance has come and gone, my group choreographic debut. Such a mixture of feelings! In a way it’s sad, knowing that we will never dance this dance again. I mean the choreography can be recreated, but it wouldn’t be the same people, so it wouldn’t be the same – what each of them brings to the table. If I’m honest, i have gotten attached to every dance I’ve performed, but this time’s different – when it’s something you’ve created, it’s yours, you’ve brought it forth from where it existed in a realm of possibilities and made it happen. During each of the performances I saw people recording during it, and that makes me happy – i feel like this way my work lives on.
In general, the audience response was positive- i mean, if anyone thought it sucked they either kept it to themselves, or I didn’t hear of it. On the other hand, lots of people told me they enjoyed it. They can’t all be lying to me, right?
I didn’t know what kind of response it would receive. I mean, I loved it, the entire process from when it was one of infinite possibilities in my mind, as it began to tak shape. I didn’t know (or care, if i must be honest) if the audience would “get it”. There’s different levels of understanding and I don’t thing art requires to be understood to be appreciated…yes, i think i just referred to myself as an artist, no offense meant to those true artists, if there is such a thing… I’ve come a long way… but my point is that I created the piece that I felt I must create, not a piece meant to be a crowd pleaser. That it be enjoyed is a bonus, and it pleases me, but it wasn’t the point.
The process, as I metioned in a previous post, was stressful as can be. I would plan out the details for my next rehearsal at home (I’m a big time planner, definitely), videotaped the end of every rehearsal so there was no confusion about what we got done, and took copious amounts of notes. I worked my butt off, but it was all a pleasure, because I was committed to getting this to work. I was desperately hoping that my organization, planning and just pure effort would make up for all my shortcomings. The finished product – and the recordings that I have seen of it – make me so proud. I’m not one of those obnoxiously self-assured people, quite the opposite, so I have no way of knowing if I did a good job. But I really like the outcome, that’s enough for now. And this has been the most fun I’ve had performing, ever.
But the shortcomings were there. I learned so much throughout this entire process. For someone who usually hates working in a group, I had my work cut out for me. Yes, I confess at some point I found myself searching online for information about how to be a leader, and especially, how to lead more “dominant” people (for the record, the closest I found to useful information was to give them a task or responsibility). Despite having a carefully thought out plan of what we’re doing, there were some moments when I felt so incredibly overwhelmed. Having a plan and getting people to follow it are not the same thing, I soon learned. I also quickly figured out that being a leader is hard work! There are sometimes difficult decisions that you have to make, or decisions that are easy to make, but hard to inform the person that they affect. In my dance piece I had different parts for different dancers, depending on their skill level (I had everything from brand new beginners, to people who have danced for years, just not ballet, to some ballet experience), and one of the most difficult parts was dealing with people that ummm, overestimate their dancing ability. People that have the confidence, but not the moves – so awkward to tell them that they aren’t getting to dance a certain paet, and dealing with the reactions… I’m a people pleaser, unfortunately, and giving people news they don’t want to hear is very difficult for me. It’s something I struggle with still.
But in the end we did it! And honestly, I would do it again – am I a glutton for punishment, or do I just require tasks that force me to focus and step out of my comfort zone in order to grow? Don’t know, but I know that I feel like I’ve learned a lot, not just about what it takes to put on a show successfully but also about interpersonal interaction and human nature. I value all my lessons.
The summer modern session ended as well, and I had a great time throughout. I am so much more comfortable with floor work than ever before. One of the other pieces that I performed in in the show had lots of floor work including falling down from standing or jumps and I was able to do it all (with the help of my trusty knee pads!) and live to do it again the next day. In the modern classes I took a couple years ago (wow – has it really been that long?!) we did more warming up and less across the floor or combinations, but in this summer’s class we got to everything. So sad that this teacher is not going to be teaching modern at my school this fall.
I’m feeling a bit out of practice with ballet. While all the rehearsals and modern classes were going on, I was not able to keep up my ballet practice – I was lucky if I go to do ballet twice a week or so. And during the last show someone landed on my foot, so I’ve been taking it easy for the past week. But today I pulled up Kathryn Morgan’s Advanced Barre on youtube and gave it a try. It was so fun to attempt that level again! Not that I was anywhere close to mastering it, but it felt so good to try. The improvement from the first time trying the new combinations to the second time was actually really encouraging!
But this reminds me, I don’t know which classes to sign up for come fall. I mean, I almost feel like I would like to take the int/adv class again… I’ve taken it before, I was strong enough to be in it last year in the Fall, but I discontinued last Spring. Instead I took beginner class en pointe. While beginner class en pointe was really fun, I don’t know if I was feeling challenged enough. Int/adv is a good challenge, but if I may be honest, I really don’t like some of the people in the class – mean-spirited, stuck-up people – especially when contrasted with the fun atmosphere in the beginner class. The unpleasant people really make the class not fun, especially because I would like to attempt the more difficult options for the combinations (you gotta start somewhere…) but I feel like they are judging me, or staring me down. In short, I don’t feel welcome. And no, it’s not in my head that some of these people don’t like me – one of them was involved in this past show, and as part of the pre-performance we usually all have a group warm up. One of the exercises we did for warm up was walk around and when the music stopped we were supposed to partner with the person nearest us and stretch together, then repeat. Well, at one of the times when the music stopped, this person was right in front of me, closest to me, and she turned around and walked away trying to find someone else (there wasn’t, every one else had paired up). I mention this not to get sympathy but to show that there are some mean-spirited brats out there masquerading as “adults”; often times people like to believe the best in others (“maybe she didn’t see you…” but I was right there) , and I just wanted to prove that this is not in my head or a product of my anxiety. But anyway, haven’t decided yet which class to take – I guess I have a few weeks to figure it out. Also have a about a month to figure out if I will audition for the next show. A lot can happen in a month…