I am so grateful to sit here, the day after a comp weekend, and think about the magnificence that I saw performed on stage. I saw artists, fully committed and completely immersed in the physicality, intention, and raw humanness that makes us unique individually. I witnessed these beautiful humans give of themselves in a way that they never have before with these creations, completely abandoning themselves to it and the audience. It was, honestly, so electric that I could hardly contain it....and I didn’t.
I must say that I am also quite blessed to have students that believe in what they did this past weekend. Without the accolades, without the awards, knowing clearly that the judges were looking for something completely different and didn’t understand our approach, they walked away still believing in what they shared. They still walked away proud.
The amount of feedback parents, students, and I got from other studio owners, other parents, or other dancers was overwhelming in number. It was validation enough that, yes, we touched someone in the audience. But, even without any words, you could feel the stillness in the audience when pieces were finished. It’s almost like they were hanging onto the last bit of silence and/or feeling that was left before they could clap. The delay in applause was apparent. This is our mission when performing. To create a response in someone. Something that lasts. Something that awakens them to themselves, even for a moment.
Yes, it is hard to not see students recognized for their unique gifts. I never want them to feel as if what they did on stage was suddenly invalid because of their lack of place. Then I remember. I remember that they wholly believe in what we do, day in and day out, with our time in the studio and that they enjoy taking the risk of being the “rebel” artists at these competitions, that losing to create art is worth it, and that giving this up is not the trade off they are willing to make. Sometimes it is appreciated, the three dimensional intention and physicality, the honoring of individuality and our very adamant approach of not removing this to create a cleaner dance, and our focus on honest connection on stage which allows for spontaneity. Again, sometimes it’s appreciated and sometimes it is not, and that is okay. We would rather the audience be moved by what they saw. Either moved to love it or hate it, somewhere in between is not the spot on the graph we are attempting to hit. One hundred percent in it, and with absolute opinion. We attempt to move the needle completely left or right.
We create art. Period. I have, from the beginning of my choreographing for competition companies, never sacrificed this part. I am stubborn. I refuse to add in winning elements just because I know it may get us a better place if it doesn't serve the vision I continue to edit and edit. Ask any of the students how nuanced and tedious my process can be even in picking out one gesture. I constantly ask myself in the creative process if it is in line with the piece, is it actually communicating something, can I take away the music and does the movement stand on its own? I pick obscure music, I pick music that may not elicit a feeling but rather is just a background component for the forefront choreography. I choose to use complicated partnering, I choose to make everything three dimensional, I choose these humans to experience something beyond what a trophy is capable of giving. I choose these artists.