The music swells, the lights dim, and every seat is filled with Tschaikovsky’s famous score. This is the ultimate romantic fairytale, with a cast of fantastical characters…..
I lean forward in my red plush seat, the overture in full swing, excited for my first encounter with this famous Balanchine ballet.
And then it all stops…..and the conductor waves his baton to halt.
Let’s try that again!
Because this isn’t a normal performance….quite the opposite in fact. Tonight, I am witnessing the final dress rehearsal of New York City Ballet’s production.
And there will be stopping.
This is bringing back memories…..
I’ve spent most of my adult life on stage.
Whether I was dancing or singing or acting, or doing them all at once…I often found myself in full costume under glowing lights with full makeup.
I may have been flipping my skirt in Buenos Aires, or grabbing my long cat tail in a junkyard, or singing under the sea with a glittery fin.
I’ve been up there so many times in the final dress, figuring out the spacing, the lights, my costume, and how to transfer the hard work I did in the rehearsal room to a live audience and no mirror.
Most of all…I found myself dealing with timing.
A show is like a well oiled machine, after all. There are so many moving pieces, and they all come together for Opening Night.
They all come together to create that magic the audience experiences, and the magic I feel as an Artist. It’s that knowing of exactly when to take each step within the story, like puzzle pieces coming together.
Watching the final dress of Sleeping Beauty was fascinating. The choreography is some of the most intricate and challenging I’ve seen, and the tempos were brisk.
And not every dancer was keeping up. As it was dress rehearsal, some were still settling in, and there were missed steps. The artistic director was on stage for most of the dress rehearsal giving notes and adjusting spacing.
So, the real question became, what was setting those dancers apart? The ones who were on their game, and those who were struggling?
How was Aurora so poised and balanced?
In ballet, and with Tschaikovsky’s driving score, there has to be absolute attack and understanding of what and where to place your body.
And really, how is this different than any other Artistic endeavor?
With your Art, do you know where you need to be and when?
Or are you just throwing your work out with no direction?
There were many moments in my career that felt like I was being stopped. I felt held up. I would book a great show, and feel like that would get me to Broadway, and then blow a callback. I would be in dance class and fall out of my pirouette…again.
I would witness the ease and flow of another dancer sailing through a triple turn and see quite quickly what was missing in my body…
Alignment and breath.
There was such a holding on, and pushing. I wasn’t trusting my work and doubting. I wasn’t trusting the hours and years I had put in, and placing my attention on the PRESENT moment. I was too busy in the future, worried about what COULD go wrong, instead of placing all my energy in the execution of now.
So, my timing was off.
Start and Stop…..
My own inner conductor was waving his baton to say,
Let’s try that again!
A reminder to wake up and place my attention where it needed to be so I could deliver my most powerful performance and feel the fulfillment of my Art.
So, where is your attention?
What is your conductor saying to you?
Are you in the present moment of your Art or living in the failures of your past?
Perhaps that is why you keep stopping.
Your point of power is always the present moment.
So lace up your shoes, and let’s dance.