So, we had our showcase Monday night, and overall, I am very happy with the way things went — miraculously! My friend took some pictures, which I will post as soon as she sends them, but, until then, here are a few I took backstage (five total — just keep pressing ‘next’ until you come to the end). I first performed my lyrical Rhumba to Jessica Simpson’s “Take My Breath Away” with Pasha. I am VERY happy with the way it went; it felt much much MUCH better than last time. I was more comfortable in my own dress (just a pretty but simple discount Betsey Johnson I bought at the Woodbury Commons outlets, rather than a formal glittery costume), and I think just because we’ve been doing it now for about nine months, I just felt like I had the choreography so down pat I could really focus on the character and stylistics, on really making it mine. Which I feel I did. Plus, not to sound ridiculously stupid, but I honestly think it paid off to see so much ballet in the meantime — both on video and live. Since this routine was a very lyrical piece, I paid close attention to pictures in my ballet books of Julie Kent, scrutinizing how she held her hands, her arms, hung her head in a back dip or lunge. Apart from thinking she is one of ballet’s most sophisticated female artists, I have a body similar to hers — long-limbed and thin, and she has this way of looking soft and beautiful and willowy without looking like a spineless, centerless string of spaghetti, like moi. I also tried hard to remember the way Gillian Murphy danced Marcelo Gomes’s ballet, “Loving,” with David Hallberg, which I’d seen in Martha’s Vineyard over the summer. I absolutely adored his sweet, romantic ballet, and we actually had some of the same basic lifts in our routine, and I loved the way Gillian expressed things with her face and body — so I tried to remember and emulate. And not that I look like anything approximating either of those uber divas, but I think just paying close attention to the details of their stylistics and trying to emulate that, made all the difference for me. And I felt like everyone noticed how much improved I was. Everyone was patting me on the back telling me how well I did when Pasha put me down (from what I still call our Romeo and Juliet lift 🙂 ) in the wings and we walked through the backstage area. NO ONE told me that at the March performance! I also think I was so much calmer, so much more comfortable on stage. I think with a few more performances under my belt, I will be even more comfortable in front of an audience. I mean, I was still nervous, but it was more of an energizing, adrenaline-pumping nervousness than a debilitating one. I still got a bit blinded by the bright lights when I looked out into the audience, but I was more prepared for it this time, and before we performed, I made a point of memorizing where the exit signs were, and other things I could spot to orient myself onstage so that I wouldn’t lose my bearings or balance.
My second routine, the super-fast crazy mambo combo with Luis, went well too, given that it’s a much newer routine and we’ve only had the choreography completed for about two weeks. I did mess up a few places — I hit poor Luis in the face with my elbow during my nine continuous spins around him, and it took a bit longer than it should have to get down into the first set of splits so I had to cut them short and not go down all the way, and then I started on the wrong foot during side-by-side point / kicks. But my friend took a video of it with her digital camera and I watched it, and, at least from what I could see on her small camera screen, you couldn’t even tell we messed up — you couldn’t see me hit him in the face, and it kind of looked like we were supposed to be on opposite feet during the side by sides — the line it created looked kinda cool. So only thing that looked off was the too-slow splits, which were remedied by the next set which were far better — so I don’t even think the mess-up was memorable to the audience. And, my friends who came all swore they couldn’t even tell that was wrong; they all said since I was smiling the whole time it looked like everything went just as I meant it to. So, I guess the pros are right when they insist that no one in the audience knows your choreography and if you don’t act like you made a big ole blunder, no one will know.
I say NOW I’m happy with my performance… I should hold my words until I get my DVD of it and see it on a bigger screen!
Since my two routines were so completely different, I asked all of my friends who came which one they liked best, which one was more ‘me.’ But no consensus. Some thought I either looked more comfortable doing the lyrical or that it just looked better on my balletic body; others thought the mambo was so fun with my funky cherry red, fringe-covered costume and that the lifts, fast footwork and fun tricks were so incredible that it was far more impressive. In the end, I guess I just have more than one side to my personality; neither is more ‘me’ — I can be anyone I feel like being (which is what performance art is all about anyway!)
The very worst part of the whole experience was that Luis called me the next day (yesterday) to tell me that he is taking a break from the studio, which means I probably won’t be dancing that routine with him again. I loved that routine — he did such a great job choreographing it — he put in a bunch of fun lifts and tricks that I’d begged him for, and it was fast-pased and very challenging, and everything looked good on my body and was well suited to my dance strengths. And I loved dancing with him (he may, after all, be the only person who’s strong enough to lift me over his shoulders 🙂 ). I really felt like crying when he told me. I am so going to miss him. He also said he and his pro partner, Anya, are no longer going to compete in the pro competitions so that they can spend more time performing, both live and in videos. (They just did a Luis Miguel video — are the principle couple in it!) So, I don’t even know how much I am going to be running into him in the future. Very sad.
On a happier note, tonight was opening night of the ABT. So spectacular! David was so fabulous in Tharp’s The Upper Room, as was Irina Dvorovenko. I love her in Tharp ballets — she just seems to ‘get’ Tharp like no one else, and the choreography just suits her so well. Other highlights were Marcelo (DUH!!!) dancing Lar Lubovitch’s Meadow with tiny gorgeous STRONG Julie (some of those lifts…it looked like he wasn’t even holding onto her…); Jose (DUH again) doing the bravura parts from Diana and Acteon (I fell into a giggling fit when he first leaped out onstage, which didn’t end until he took his bow — the guy in back of me actually changed seats… oops); and Herman Cornejo doing Tharp’s lovely Sinatra Suite, which I had not seen before. Ooooh, such a gorgeous piece! Beautifully balletically ballroomy. I so wanna do that for my next showcase 🙂 Oh, and final thing, Veronika Part made a small mistake during Balanchine’s Symphonie Concertante (my least favorite piece — I’m just not a big Balanchine fan) — it wasn’t big, and of course we’re all human, but the audience did notice, as there were many audible “ooohs”… I have to say, it did make me feel a bit relieved though– I mean, if she can make a mistake, I can make a mistake, we can all make mistakes, you know 🙂