Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lessons from Nutcracker: Breathe

We perform our Nutcracker really early (next week) so I'm passing on what I learn so that you can apply it to your show.

Seriously, just breathe. Yes, you are sick of working with certain people. Yes, the rehearsal schedule just changed for the nine millionth time and you're not sure you can rearrange your  real-life schedule to fit. Also, yes, you are being oversensitive. We all get to that place. Just breathe.

As artists, the bulk of our work is emotional. That's what makes performances so breathtaking and meaningful. Your willingness to be vulnerable and honest and giving to a theater full of strangers is an inspiring strength. It's why you care so much about what you do. And when you care so much about something, it's easier to lose perspective. 

I don't have a way to avoid the heightened stress and drama that accompanies Nutcracker. If I ever figure it out, I promise I will share with you. All I can say is keep breathing. Remember that everyone is feeling the tension that you feel. Give people the benefit of the doubt and a little extra kindness. Remember how much you liked these people six weeks ago. If you can't remember, lie to yourself. 

The work you are doing is exhausting and currently feels endless and thankless. Keep breathing so that you don't hold on to those feelings. It gets better; just don't pass out in the meantime.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I Had No Words

I like to talk. I talk a lot. It's pretty rare for me to be rendered speechless, but last night it happened. Twice.

The first time I was teaching the five-year-olds. The grandmother of one of my dancers walked into my studio and started correcting her granddaughter and criticizing how I had set up my room. I was absolutely speechless. 

In retrospect, there were many things I could (and maybe should) have said. For example:

  • It is inappropriate and disruptive for you to interrupt class.
  • Please set up an appointment to discuss concerns about your dancer.
  • She is five. She is doing just great.
  • Your correction and the expectation that goes along with it is unreasonable for this level in your dancer's development.
  • You have made your granddaughter cry. You need to back off.

Basically anything would have been better than the deer-in-the-headlights look I sported. But I am trying to cut myself some slack because this had never happened to me before. Everyone is bad at something the first time they try. Apparently this extends to dealing with overbearing grandmothers.

The second time I had nothing to say last night was after I had taught my eight-year-olds. One little girl stayed after class and happily said,

"Miss Chelsea, guess what?"
"What?" I asked, bending down to her eye level.
"My mom parked on my cat."

I mean, really, what's the appropriate response to that?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

I Have a Real Job

Sometimes I dance roles just because I want to wear the headpiece
The other day I was trying to coordinate schedules with a friend and and I mentioned that Tuesday night I'll be working late because I'm coaching a Sugar Plum. He looked at me sideways and asked, "Do the fairies talk to you?"

I know it sounded weird to say I was coaching a sugar plum but it's a real job, you guys!