Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I find myself here, in one of those times…a fourth year Orchesis member and a senior graduating in June. How did I get here? This is the last time I will be performing with Orchesis, a fact that makes me think about my very first year, and all the things I have learned between then and now. I would like to say that the insecurities are fewer, that it gets less nerve-racking to “show your stuff” as we say, and dance all that is in your soul without worrying about what it looks like to other people, (there are some things I am still waiting to learn, I suppose. Some things that haven’t really changed at all). But hard work means patience, and one day, eventually, we get there.
I have been blessed to have had the chance to perform three solos while a member of Orchesis, the third of which I am working on now for our current concert. It is “The Queen of the Wilis” from the Second Act of the beloved romantic ballet Giselle. I am working with Moon Ja once again; she continues to tell me how important it is to revive the old ballet masterworks and to share and carry on their magic in the world of dance today. This is a point I have always supported myself, and I have felt truly honored to perform in her restagings.
But for some reason, (and I am still trying to decide what that is), I feel different this year. My focus seems to have changed. I feel more connected with the piece and with the character I am playing, and the magic of it feels more at home in me. When we first began rehearsing at the beginning of the quarter, I told Moon Ja that I was glad that we had not chosen to do this piece three years ago (the year I performed a variation from Sleeping Beauty) because I know now that I would not have been ready for Myrtha at that point. Honestly, perhaps I am still not ready for it. For this piece, there is no hiding behind complex footwork or a plastered on smile. To dance Myrtha’s solo is to be Myrtha. The dance itself is her persona, the embodiment of who she is. Because of this, the work I am putting in this year must come from a different kind of place.
There is something I can’t seem to quantify, a sacredness and a transience that I can only affectionately describe as “magic” that occurs in the relationship of a dancer with the music, the stage, and the material. If I can’t articulate it, then my goal should at least be to try and capture that magic and channel it somehow to make myself become Myrtha, if only for the moment I have onstage to tell her story. I feel as though that is what we are forever trying to accomplish as dancers, to capture a moment in time and to express its truth with our bodies. (In my head I imagine rays of light and energy--think Fantasia!--that play like string instruments and harmonize in, around, and through a dancer’s moving body: the motion in harmony with the music in harmony with the surroundings in harmony with the spirit in which it is done…)
Anyway, the process never ends. We try to work a little harder today than we did yesterday and hope we get somewhere. Sometimes we don’t. Other times, the coin disappears, the rabbit jumps out of the hat, and a fleeting moment is extended, revealing something you never even knew was there.
Photo: Prem Ananda premphoto.com