Even with a successful season, you can’t make everyone happy. And, what even defines it as a success?
I am filled with a mix of emotions as I look back at the past season with Sasso & Company. There have been a lot of hurdles along the way, but overall I would say we had a successful season.
Dance shows always leave me with this mix of euphoria and sadness; something that I call “the post show blues.”
There is a sense of wow we pulled this off. We made dance and people paid to come out and see it. Then you remember all of the little mistakes: a turn that didn’t go perfectly, a strap that fell off, hair that stuck in your lipstick, a lift that you thought was going to fall, and you start to wonder how the audience felt about the show.
If you have read some of my other posts, you’ll realize that the list of worries in the world of dance and live performance is seemingly longer than the list of positives.
You might ask yourself, as I do every once in awhile, why do we do this anyway?
I find myself contemplating this question: “Why am I in the throes of post show blues?”
- The excitement and stress are over.
- The shows had packed audiences and lots of positive feedback.
- We were able to make enough money to break even for the season.
- The photos are in and confirm that, yes toes were pointed and knees were stretched.
- The video confirms that while a trained eye might see that slipped turn, no one in the audience would have noticed it; and yes we were in sync for that unison phrase. Woo!
All is well in the world of performance dance…and now what?
Now I’m in the lull.
No projects in the works and none on the horizon.
Why do I do this crazy life of a performer?
Because nothing is as exciting as the moment you step out on stage and hope that everything goes well.
Nothing is as thrilling as sharing an intimate and passionate part of your life with a live audience.
Nothing is as great as walking back in the studio to start a new project and think…shit, what the hell have I gotten myself into?! This is crazy, right?
Maybe the post show blues is natural?
My husband recently handed me a book entitled ‘The Dip’ and I rolled my eyes at him.
To give some context, that’s a really odd reaction from me to him and he was rather confused. That particular day I wasn’t ready to have someone be helpful. I just wanted to wallow. So when he said that it would be useful for me, I laughed because what he may or may not have realized was that I was sliding hard back into ‘the dip’ again (or my version; I haven’t read the book yet, so I’m sure I am butchering this concept with my own perceptions; apologies to the author).
This space between creative projects feels like being stuck in goo that numbs out sounds and makes time seem irrelevant.
I love the process of creating and thrive on the crazy deadlines and work that goes into creating a season. From anyone that knows me well, I do not sit still still, I am not good at free time.
So, what’s next?
I haven’t a clue in the world and it’s gnawing at me and driving me slightly nuts.
While this season turned out well, I think it was by the skin of our teeth.
From the perspective of the guest artists I hosted, things were peachy and pretty straightforward. For my dancers, it was a lot of stress and last minutes changes to schedules. Due to the fact that I have been living in the United Kingdom since the beginning of the season, my dancers have been running rehearsals without me physically there.
This greatly changed the way in which we planned and executed rehearsal.
So as a company, we had a lot of experimenting with better ways to communicate about rehearsals and what needed to get done.
At the end of the day, there is simply no substitute for being present in the studio. No amount of emailing can convey how movement is sitting in bodies or why things are going well or stagnating. It’s just something you can feel in rehearsal and see when you are setting the movement.
I think that there was a silent stress present the whole season due to the distance.
I haven’t quite named it yet, but for me I think I wanted to be able to fix everything and handle the problems in the moment.
I’m the director; that’s my job and I quite like it. I hated seeing my dancers putting out fires such as, “X person ran 30 minutes over their time so we had a shortened rehearsal”.
Well, I would have busted in that studio and kicked X out, but why would my dancers know to do that? I also think on their end, they had stress about creating new work for the show and how I would react to it.
While as choreographers we all get strong and say – screw you if you hate it, there is that part of each artist that wants validation – this is good work, I like that shape, turn, lift, or spatial pattern.
I also remembered that part of the fun is being in the studio and trying out ideas. Laughing at the ones that really fall flat and cheering for the weird ones that totally and unexpectedly just fit.
I missed being with my friends, chatting about life during the quick coffee breaks between running dances. I missed the laughs and the legwarmers flying everywhere, and having fun in the dance studio. I missed getting to know my two new company members and feel sad for that.
So, I ask myself again…what’s next?
Well, I don’t know.
The thought of killing the company actually rips my guts out and brings tears to my eyes as I type, but I know we cannot do another season this way.
I know the answer is out there, it always is, but my creativity hasn’t kicked in and found it yet. Until it does, I’ll keep the faith that there is a way to create at a distance or a way to keep dancing with old friends and new.
I urge you to look out for the post show blues
The post show blues surprise me every time they hit. I get so wrapped up in the work leading into performances that I don’t have time to think about the lull waiting for me on the other side.
While it is unrealistic to constantly be in that heightened state of creating and pushing for a product (this is why I have previously been artistically burnt out), it is always tough to be in the dead space between projects. I’m sure a new idea will come when I least expect it and that somehow all of these feelings and experiences will continue to inform my work as an artist.
And who knows, I bet this will all show up in a piece of choreography one day when I’m ready to really process the past few months and share it in my primary language of movement. Until then, I will be proud of the shows that I produced and live in the lull knowing that sooner or later I will be back in the crazy, creative space that impending shows dictate.