Friday, May 31, 2013

The UpsandDowns of Performing/Producing

How do you prep for the post show let down? 
Note: When I bring up the idea of performance, I bring it up not just for fine art performers, but for all people in all "life-performance" situations. 

(Written 5/25/13)
It's 1am on the night after the MeCo (Megill & Company) performance, and I am wondering with all theadrenalinestillgoingthroughmybody how do I not crash from post show let down.

Deep down I know:  The answer lies with not getting so far up that you have to crash and burn afterward.

But, when it is rally time, you rally. Right? When it is go time, you go. Right? At least that is what I try to do, mean to do, hope to do. Sometimes the natural stressors in life combined with our chosen stressors lead us to these moments of crisis. But, then what? We survive them to what end?

I don't know how I will feel tomorrow, or the next day or the next. My brain chemistry is already wobbly, so something like this can really send me into a tailspin. But this is the first year, the first show, the first time in my life really that during my adrenaline high, I am considering the next step, considering the after effect, considering what I can do to not crash, to not have post show depression.

The good news is the show was a success; the audience loved it; the guest artist were fantastic; the raffle prizes were a hit. I personally had a great time today. And, I mean the whole day, even leading up to the show. I was funny, fun and generally relaxed. Meaning, I didn't stress up or break down. I tried to delegate where I could and help as I was needed, not fretting about the things that couldn't be helped. I was trying to stay as mellow as possible.

So, just having a better more balanced day is a good start to avoiding the emotional rollercoaster of performance. Great start really. The performance was fantastic. How was my performance? It was about 85% as I hoped it would be.  Overall, I had a great time on stage.

I did my best. I had many successes. As a performer I succeeded in dancing (after my recent history of injuries, this was big). A year ago I left the stage with a pretty tight and unforgiving back. Progress can only be made so quickly. I am making big strides. I shared my message and got the word out. In all of these aspects I have mission accomplished.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
(Written 5/31/13)
I wrote the last bit in bed the night of the performance (I edited, but the sentiments are the same).  I couldn't sleep because I couldn't quite calm my nervous system down. 

Now, a week later, I am sitting on my porch at Brandeis after a week of the rollercoaster I was trying so hard to avoid.  The day ofter the show, I was exhausted and spend the day doing CFR (brain based movement therapy). The next day I was back in the studio rehearsing then crafting to keep my mind busy. The day after that was when I hit bottom.  A foul mood.  Tired, agitated, ugly. Nothing to "do" and feeling gross.  It took me hitting this bottom for me to mellow out and find balance again.  I wish it wasn't like that, because in the end I love putting on performances, I love performing and I love producing dance.  So, how am I going to change?

The flow of life is such that we have peaks and troughs in energy.  And, navigating them is no easy task.  When we first take on a huge task, we are often incredibly unskillful in most aspects, and we discover that it is hard and painful and usually ends in either tears or a some other breakdown. At least, that is how I experienced it.

Then we try again.  And again. And, in my case we try every year.  But, the learning can only happen once a year so the learning is slow going.  Yes, I crashed again this time, but not quite as hard and not quite so cathartic.

The learning I will take away is:

1. Detach, detach detach: It is so hard not to identify with the popular or financial success of the show.  Keep the art about the message and let go of all responses, good or bad.  Detach from the need to be a success.

2.  Keep what I already learned: I prepared much better than I have in the past and it made me feel more at ease with the process. I had more reasonable expectations that were more easily met.

3.  Be selfish much earlier:  This goes for my personal performance.  If I am going to dance, then I need to force myself to practice more for myself. This will be the hardest lesson to implement next time because that means I need to leave enough time and energy to actually do the work long before the performance date. Then at least I can feel good about the dancing. 

4.  Meditate everyday the week of the show!  Meditate everyday period!  My mind and nervous system had run of my body that whole week, and the only thing I could do was succumb to their agendas. I was usurped by my mind.  Not a surprise. 

I don't know if this post is very good, It seems kind of boring as I am writing it, but perhaps that is because this isn't an exciting "ah ha! lesson."  It is the work.  It is the work that needs to be done in order to navigate life with greater awareness and skill.  The work is not always bright and shiny and pretty. More often than not it is just how it is here: simple, dry, and obvious.  But, that makes the work no less challenging, no less potent and no less important. 


  1. (this is Scot from NEDT)

    I meant to read this before today's show knowing I'd see you, but that didn't happen. Sound familiar? Like this post: familiar. It's my insecurities, my thoughts and fears, written by someone I thought had all their sh!t together - always buoyant.

    This wasn't boring like you feared; it was real, relatable, true. There's so much more I could say/write, but maybe it's best over a Margarita? "Senorita's choice"

  2. Dear Scot,

    Margarita time sounds perfect!

    And yes, insecurity is pervasive, and I think it is particularly pervasive in the arts (dance being particularly terrible).

    I put myself out there in these posts because being honest with myself and the world is part of my practice. Being honest here helps me be honest in all aspects of my life. It forces me to sit down and say "Ok, Beth. What the heck is going on here?"

    I have been surprised more than once as to who reads my posts and who feels the same way! Incredible. And, a testament to being human.

    Thanks for reading!