“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”~Andre Gide
We are in heavy duty dance performance mode now. After months and months, and in some cases years, of rehearsal, we are performing the new work in a variety of venues–from the stage to the sidewalk.
Of course, this means both that we have practiced the movement countless times and that we need to continue to find ways to keep each performance of it fresh. To strike the balance between being very well rehearsed and also wholly in the moment of “live” performance.
Our choreographer-director reminded us at Sunday’s rehearsal that we have to persist in digging more deeply–within ourselves and among each other–to avoid complacency. How to do that?
There are the obvious, outward triggers, that will keep us on our toes, like performing in different venues and dancing in the full production with costumes, lights, visual design. But the tougher and true test is an inner one.
Essentially, I need to find ways to surprise myself. Yes, every time we perform. In reality, I should always be doing this–whether there is an audience or not. Delving more deeply into mind, body and soul helps me grow generally as an artist and specifically as a communicator of this dance we have worked on for so long.
To make each show truly “live” rather than mindlessly rote, I need to question continually my own status quo: can I pause longer here, and move closer to the edge there? What happens if I connect with a nearby dancer in this moment? How can I tap into my emotion to drive that adagio section? When can I make eye contact with audience members? Which avenues have yet to be explored for me to embody and convey the vision for this dance and for me as an artist?….
During the studio showing on Sunday, I purposefully came a hair’s breadth away from a stationary dancer when I leaped across the floor and then swayed near him. I’ve never before been anywhere near that close, and the newness and riskiness kept my skin tingling for many minutes. I need to keep riding those electrifying moments of discovery….
As I was ruminating about how to keep each show “new,” I realized again how this is the same thing we do in life. At least, ideally. We continue to explore, discover, take risks, try new things or just a new way of doing the “old” things, fail, move on, develop another part of ourselves.
Sure, there are times when we just need the comfort of the familiar. But to keep ourselves truly alive, we need to investigate whether today we intentionally choose the usual morning routine, same route to work, regular leisure activities, meals, friends, language, scenery, inner dialogue.
What if I try this new-to-me food, schedule, path, activity, worldview, self-image? What happens if I shake up even one teeny tiny thing?
Just as a fundamental test of a performer is how much and how well she can step outside of the known, a threshold question for each of us pioneers is how many frontiers we can trek in the lives of our minds, bodies and souls. Not in a destructive way, but in a vibrant and even playful way.
I’d like to say that I am really good at this. But I’d be lyin’. I still have so far to go. Leaving the sight of familiar shores can be scary. But thrilling as all get-out.
Here’s to discovering new oceans…..