RolePlay: Putting Pride Aside

Here is what happened upon my arrival home after tech rehearsal at the theatre last night:

Dropping my bag, heavy with warm-ups and water bottles, first disturbed my little cat who was dozing on my bed. She turned her big green eyes towards me, disoriented by the noise and light. “Oh….you’re sooo cute! I just love you!” I said, petting her soft striped head. Her response was to swat me in the face with a furry declawed paw, promptly poop under my bed, then hide under my couch for the remainder of an hour until all the mess had been cleaned up and I was no longer quite so angry.

Sometimes I feel like dance treats me the same way- in that I declare my love and then it sh*ts all over me.

I only say this because my (huge over-inflated) ego occasionally-to-often goes through a beating with dance. I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see- boom. I get the correction that stings, ‘Those are the worst temps leves I’ve ever seen!’ – punch. A cast list goes up and I don’t get the part I wanted, or picked at all. Screw driver to the heart.

This post has, I suppose, been a while in coming but it’s been hard to write because….it’s embarassing. The truth of the matter is that I was not, all those weeks ago, chosen to perform in Jessica Lang’s piece. In fact, I am the only company member currently in the studio standing on the sidelines. There is a fancy-schmancy reception after one of our shows which I obviously wanted to attend- and when I asked if I would be allowed, I was told that beyond spots for the dancers and the director there are a few extra tickets floating around. Ouch. I do not want to be ‘the extra ticket’. Mostly because I then feel like I’m taking something I do not deserve. More than wanting an excuse to wear a fancy dress and exchange chit-chat with the who’s who of dancers in town, I just wanted to get up from the sidelines, join the real party, and be one of ‘the dancers’. It is horrifying, embarrassing, painful to admit to my Mom who has paid for soooo much training, I wasn’t good enough. During a few rehearsals, I would sit with our artistic director and she would tell me about how much a few of the dancers have grown since they first met. I could hear the mix of admiration, love, and pride in her voice- humbled to work with dancers like Tara and Mariko and pleased to have been an instrument in bringing them to the beautiful artists that they are now. I so badly want her to look at me that way. Even in class, I see my fellow dancers do these things- amazing, incredible things that make me love dance and want to work just a little bit harder. Being surrounded by so much talent makes me feel both a part of something special (and therefore I must be kind good too, right?) and very afraid that I don’t ever inspire and push the others in the way they do for me.

I’ve been helping take notes for Jessica and Jen (so that they don’t have to take their eyes away from the rehearsals in order to write down a correction) which is pretty cool and I’m more than happy to sit close to them and do so. But every time I hear either of them whisper ‘that was good’ I feel both proud of my friends and so incredibly jealous, wishing it was me.

rehearsing ‘Anonymous’ by Jessica Lang

To be clear, I do not blame anyone for this rather not-fun circumstance. I am not mad at choreographer, director, or other dancers that I wasn’t picked. I’m not even really mad at myself- maybe there was more I could have done over the summer to be stronger coming in to this season but I didn’t and that’s that. I just have to remember that dance doesn’t owe me anything if I don’t treat it with love, feed it with my best effort, humility, and care- basically the way I feed and treat my abusive feline, whom I love regardless of her behavior.

Everyone wants to feel like the strong, impressive star but sometimes that’s just not the role you are supposed to play. I think it takes consequences to learn, and grow up. I’m feeling the consequences of so much time away from dance. Sometimes it takes a hard lesson to realize not only how much I still do want this dream but that it is not going to wait for me to just show up and take it. And want it, I most definitely do. I feel it in the pain of sitting and not dancing during rehearsals and in the joy of being in class with such great friends, teachers, and sources of inspiration.

Let in the Light- maybe if I get close enough to Kristen I will be able to turn like her

In the meantime, I am trying to make myself as useful as possible and continue to (hopefully graciously) take the corrections, the classes, the opportunities that have been so generously given to better myself. I hope that I am not too much of a disappointment to my friends, family, and teachers and hope that they feel appreciated for the drive they continue to inspire in me. In the end though- I want to dance for myself. Selfish to the core- it’s probably why I’m such a cat person.

Wouldn’t it be nice if upon sight you could recognize the teacher that will change your entire way of dancing, your thinking about dance and even yourself? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little whisper in your ear whenever bad news came that would say, ‘this is hard now, but tough it out, because this it the thing that turns it all around’. It’s so hard to know immediately what role each person and event will really play in our lives, isn’t it? Or even to know our own effect.

So perhaps my role, for this show, is that of a supporting player. I hope that I have helped in some way. So much has been given to me, I would feel terrible if I did not reciprocate. I just hope in the future, to give back more through my dancing.

I came across this art print, ‘Circle of Influences’ and felt compelled to make my own, tracking some of the more influential teachers that I’ve had. I’ve managed to somehow link myself to Balanchine, Diaghilev, and the Royal Ballet so I’m feeling like the prized pig in this spiderweb of dance masters.

I leave you with yet another quote, this time from Harry Potter (surprise, surprise).

 “What is coming will come, and we will meet it when it does” Hagrid, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Wrong my hairy friend, what is coming will come, and I am preparing for its’ arrival.

4 thoughts on “RolePlay: Putting Pride Aside

  1. We love you Jess, and so happy that you are a part of Common Thread! I have been an understudy many times, and know exactly how it feels! You will get your chance to bloom!!

  2. Don’t forget that sign you drew once – YIELD TO A HIGHER POWER 🙂 You’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing *right now* and that doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever. You are a strong, beautiful, talented, hilarious woman and I am proud to call you a friend! Where that question mark is in your drawing… put my name somewhere after that! Just keep reminding yourself that you are blessed and it will all work out.

    In other news – less than 2 weeks until Alice in Wonderland and I think I am more excited than my students – haha! I can’t wait to share ballet with them and I wish you could come be a chaperone too! Lots of love from the KY/OH border ❤

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