When Is The Best Moment Of Performing?

By TurnedOutPointeOfView on Friday, November 1, 2019

Photo: What Dance Can Do Project

Thank you for the question, tut4thewin!

Awww… performing. Without a doubt, my most favorite thing to do. I love stepping out in to the lights and sharing an evening with an audience. Magic happens. I swear, there is magic in the air at a theater. It is just waiting for you to ignite it.

My favorite moment when performing is when you are so “in” to the show that you can just play. The mind no longer has to focus on everything it has been instructed to do from the previous weeks. Everything clicks. All emotions become pure and your own physical boundaries get pushed! It’s just you up there without your coaches helping hand. Time to own the stage. It’s exhilarating.

Photo: Tejs ‘Olm

For weeks before a performance your head is filled with a lot of input from your coaches. Corrections, portrayal, emotions, counts, stage left, stage right, downstage, upstage… It can become numbing when you have so many things to remember in the same second.

But, this part of the process cannot be skipped. You need to know all of these things in order to present your best self and in order to reach the best overall production. Some days are frustrating. Some days are tiring. But in the end you are always very grateful for having a team working with you and helping you along the way. You couldn’t do it without them.

When you finally get to the performing step of the process, the mind starts to calm. That’s when you can start to lose yourself in the moment. It is the most amazing moment when performing. It may not happen on your first performance. Usually, you need at least one run under your belt. But then, an extra boost of confidence comes. Your body is automatically doing the steps, you know all your cues like the back of your hand and the opportunity to play has arrived. Play with holding a balance here, stretch the musicality there, add an extra turn where you can, when you can, steal another glance at your partner… There is nothing more joyous then getting to the level of playing on stage. It brings you on a high that you don’t ever want to come down from.

Photo: Brian Larsen

As I was writing this, the ballet that kept creeping in to my mind was, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Christopher Wheeldon. This ballet was a huge challenge to take on. The role of Alice has many specific instructions and steps. Have to look at the clock on count 2, of the fifth 8…. etc. And Alice is always moving. Always!
It took a long time to learn all of it and then to remember all of it, and then again to become comfortable with all of it. But I’ve never felt more rewarded by a role then Alice. Especially the second time the Royal Danish Ballet put up Alice, I found that I was really able to start to play on stage. I still crave that feeling after performances. I had some of my best performances to date. Out doing my own expectations of myself, which I’d never experienced before. I can be a pretty tough cookie on myself. 😉
And I was having so much fun! Every night after I played Alice, I couldn’t sleep. I was still so much in Alice’s world… replaying the night’s highlights over and over again in my head. Those shows felt like magic. Igniting that magic that exists in a theater so one can play, live on stage, is the best moment of performing.

xoxo
-Hol

Have You Ever Forgotten Your Steps Onstage!?

By turnedoutpointeofview on Friday, August 30, 2019

Yup. Yes, I have. Luckily, this doesn’t occur often, but we are human, like everyone else. For me, I fell victim to exhaustion, and my brain lost focus, for less than a second, but still leaving me in a state of panic. I forgot my steps while I was performing in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Side note- This ballet is absolutely fantastic!). The company did 21 shows in 3 weeks! No small feat. It’s a huge, magical production.

‘Alice i Eventyrland’ ballet på det Kongelige Teater. Portræt af Holly Dorger, 27 år, der danser Alice i balletten.

I was very fortunate to have been cast as the role of Alice and as the role of the Queen of Hearts. It was amazing to play such different characters. It also came along with a big responsibility.

The character of Alice is on stage for almost the entire ballet. She is only off stage for one quick costume change. She has many steps. SO MANY steps! The Queen of Hearts is often on stage at the same time as Alice. It was crucial to remember who I was playing everyday. I constantly switched back and forth. Everyday before the show, I would go through the scenes that the characters shared as the character, I was on that day.

Usually, if you dance as Alice then the next day you have off. For me, due to scheduling, I did four shows as Alice or the Queen, twice in a row! The first time I had four in a row, I alternated each show between the characters. The second time I did four in a row, they were the final four shows of the run. I played Alice for three of them and then switched to Queen for the very last show. In that last show, while I was dancing the Queen’s variation, is where I had my blank out.

It was minor. If you didn’t know her correct steps you wouldn’t have seen it. Luckily, I was dancing by myself, so a ripple effect wasn’t created for any of the other dancers. I knew right away that something was off. I did a step that didn’t feel quite right or normal. Thank goodness dancers have such good muscle memory. A tool that we use everyday. Before my brain knew something was off my body did. My body kept dancing through. Once my brain caught up, I remember feeling a moment of panic, and then a realization of, “Well, I’m still going.” The song that Dori sings from, Finding Nemo, would be a great theme song for anyone who suffers from a black out. “Just keep swimming… Just keep dancing…”.

When I got back into the wings, I was fully aware that I definitely needed to catch up on some sleep. My brain was tired from constantly switching and trying to stay on top of such a big, and complicated ballet for two characters ( I was also rehearsing up to 6 hours for our upcoming production of Cinderella as Cinderella and the step sister. Again switching between two characters.). To say my head was fully loaded would have been an understatement. As busy as I was, I loved every second of it!
xoxo
-Hol