Part of my job at Moorpark College is directing the fall dance concert. As with most projects, I love-love-love the creative process. The brainstorming of ideas and excitement of new creative possibilities. I love the promise of potential that fills the air at the inception of a project or concert. I dream big. I like to revolutionize myself and the process each chance I get. I can't help but want to push the envelope, push my limits and try something I have never done before.
But, this stage of the concert process is long gone. And, when I reach this point of no return (7 days before the concert) I can't help but think. "What was I thinking?"
This concert I have choreographed a fun and ridiculously fast tap dance, a physically demanding and powerful modern dance trio and a crazy, large ensemble piece (complete with strange walks, trench coats, boots and screaming).
Did I mention I dream big?
The thing that I am learning is that my creativity is in some ways its own vice. I can't help but get excited about new ideas, creative trains of thought, and potential "awesomeness" in general. I love to generate ideas, ways of working, aesthetic systems, choreographic projects.
But then it comes time to do it and actually make it happen. And, I find myself here in "Tech Week"!
For those of you outside of the performing arts, Tech Week is the time the production uses to move into the theater, set lights, practice with costumes and generally go mad from fatigue at that same time.
Admittedly I write in anticipation. Tech week technically starts tomorrow. But, as always, it promises long hours in a dark theater, after which your butt is numb, and you can't quite remember what day it is, if you need to eat, nor if you went to bathroom in the last 5 hours. It is not all that terrible. It can actually be fun. But it is (or at least has been) always exhausting. Imagine functioning on adrenaline and caffeine for 12 hours straight but not being able to go any where or see the light of day for three days straight.
And, who am I to complain? The technicians do this all day long each and everyday, project and project, production after production. But, I am to a point in my life where I have become more protective of my energy and health. I am less willing to burn myself out the way I used to. I guess I have learned that the production "hang over" just isn't worth it.
Life goes on after a dance concert just as it did before. Yet, the show will not make itself. It takes time and energy, focus and patience. It takes hope, creativity, and diligence. Perseverance perhaps most of all.
I want to find a way that I can enjoy Tech. Am I crazy to think it might actually be possible to put on a dance concert and not lose my mind or sacrifice my physical health? I have reached a point where I no longer want to push through. I don't want to just "make it happen." I don't want to live my life wishing these next two weeks were already over, when this is what I love to do.
I want to love it while I am in it. Not just before and after.
It is time for me to make some changes in how I work. I want to teach the dancers that it feels good to work, create and perform (and it feels best when you don't kill yourself in the process). The reward needs to be in the process. My students run themselves so ragged that I am afraid they miss the entire experience. Sure they always "get through." But they are sleep walking through it all.
I know because I was too.
It is time to wake up.