C'est la Vie Elbie

song du jour: Silence, delirium & Sarah McLachlan

mood: hmmm

Where do I start? ...Stomach flu, 4 bananas, a few crackers, several Sprites, a box of Airborne, sleepless nights, shaky legs, followed by four performances in three days (3 of which sold out). Well, that about sums it up except for the part about loosing my top in dress rehearsal. Damn, those costume malfunctions are a bit inconvenient.

I seem to have replaced my previously debilitating stage fright with ho-hum blasseness. Rather a drag that. When I was on stage, I was giving it my all, but prior to and afterwards it was all I could do not to curl up in a corner for a nap. I just couldn't get excited until the brief flutterings of nerves as I took my position and waited for my cue, and I felt really guilty that I couldn't be more upbeat for Nalan, who did the most amazing job of bringing life and light to the moves I'd set down over these last three months.

There is an exhilaration to performing that might only compare to a compulsive gambler's thrill at the spin of the wheel or the roll of the dice. Dancing is a wild card. You rehearse and rehearse and endlessly drill the troublesome parts only to go out on stage not quite knowing if you will nail it and find that you nail the difficult areas and that places that were never an issue at all are suddenly shaky. It's never easy for a dancer to know if what felt on the inside like a 6.0 on the richter scale of ankle and knee parts was, as it often is, invisible to the audience. Performing dance is a time when truly how you look is is more important than how you feel.

By the time we were ready for the tech rehearsal, which we were unceremoniously and unprofessionally screwed out of week before last, the whirling dervish veil turns that had once seemed so fast and so nauseating when I first conceived them were a piece of cake. Wanting to toss my cookies and barely eating for 4 days took care of that. It felt as though no matter how centered I was backstage, I staggered on and over to my spot each night. I hear the video looks great though, so I will reserve self chastisement.

I received some rave reviews from people whose creative talents I hold in very high esteem. It's great when your support system says you were fabulous, but to the recovering perfectionist, it will never seem objective, which is why Monicac Nobel's effusive praise and Maggie Rae's rehearsal notes meant the most to me as I regard their respective styles of choreography as some of the most innovative and creative in the dance world today, and pretty much at the cutting edge of anything that can be called hip hop. Like so many people, Monica was surprised that I was the choreographer. Most people don't make a big deal of their backgrounds around there, so neither do I, and I forget that not everyone walks through their houses perpetually trying to come up with an original way to do so. Not every one sees people moving in their heads every time the stereo goes on or a song gets stuck in their heads. Since I was old enough to walk, I've been seeing forms move in patterns in my head. Putting a piece on stage feels as normal to me as polishing a work that was once an idea and now a piece of art. Yes, I forget none of that is particularly 'normal' to most people, hence the little bit of attitude from some that a mere student was among the names on the ATL dance scene.

For all the praise all the way around, I was a little disappointed that people didn't grasp the the creativity of the fusion technique I'm inventing. Because the scene down here is primarily hip hop with a dash of jazz, people don't really get bellydancing. (The throngs of women taking bellydance classes, buying expensive costumes in which to parade [not so much dance] on stage at workshop shows, despite having no clue about technique don't help either.) I hold this in a larger perspective because I used to feel that I had to prove jazz was legit in the sea of ballet snots in the 80's back when breakdancing was something for gang kids with nothing better to do, and no one would have imagined it would spawn such a technically demanding and complex genre in its own right. One day we will turn on MTV at any given moment and see a multitude of world dance forms that will have become every day icons of pop culture. For now my endeavor got praise for being dynamic in that it "incorporated jazz." No one even seemed to notice the Indian elements let alone the Ailey influence. Perhaps only a bellydance audience could be suitably impressed or probably aghast that I broke the rules with legs that popped above 90 degrees and sequences that traveled across the stage in a single phrase of 8 without ever loosing the snaky undulating shimmies that make 10 pounds of glass beads shimmer in the stage lights. This isn't the end of this piece. We will see where it goes.

At the risk of being a bitch, I will say that my all too apparent blah attitude was not helped by the general chaos of the crew that is the norm for these shows. It would have been nice if the lighting had ever been the same way twice. It would have been nice if there were a more cohesive approach to running things. It would have been nice to have support and professionalism instead of people freaking out at me. It would have been nice to receive emails with rehearsal information or at least a place I could click on the website instead of having to ask people, who don't know either. It would have been nice if the order had been decided prior to the artistic director gathering us around at dress rehearsal and writing down names in the order in which he suddenly felt inspired. With me standing directly in front of him, 4 times he said, "Ok, and then Nalan's piece," to which I would say, "mine," and he would say, "Oh, yeah..." Do I say it? It would have been nice for it the director not to take off out of town the week prior for the third show this year or for a certain person directly underneath her not to be running around drunk begging for attention from all the women. Why is it these supposedly straight male dancers obnxiously have to declare their orientation to the point we all wonder if they protest too much?!? For all Nalan's and my hard work a certain amazingly talented dancer, choreographer, and now owner of a talent agency told Nalan after the late Saturday show, "I have seen all these dancers before and all these styles of dance before, but YOU... YOU two were every straight man's fantasy." Oh, gee, thanks. Yeah, that was the goal of my life in the arts...

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