It's February! Which means, Ballet Arkansas' first winter performance is only a few weeks away. This is always an exciting, yet exhausting time. The coming weeks are filled with cleaning rehearsals, more cleaning rehearsals, and you guessed it! More cleaning rehearsals. Sounds tedious right? It can be! But cleaning rehearsals are crucial when a performance is approaching.
Rehearsal is a dancer’s opportunity to grow and change as an artist - building and strengthening their technique. It’s also the time when a dancer not only grows artistically and technically, but as an individual. Tedious or not, dancers value cleaning rehearsals.
Most people only see the end product! The tutus, the tiaras, the lights. What they don’t see is the sweat, laughs, and tears put in to each show. A dancer’s goal is to make everything look as easy and clean as possible. If you had seen the ballet a few weeks prior to the performance, you might have thought "yikes"! Trust me, we were thinking "yikes" too! A performance does not just happen! It takes time, dedication, and focus to get it where we feel it’s “performance ready".
The next few weeks are filled with restless nights as choreography swarms your head. 1 2 3 4 5 6, 1 2 3 4 5 6 AHHH will it ever stop?! You wake up in a panic because you dreamed you missed your entrance. Performance nightmares are no joke! And unfortunately, they happen way too often.
Each rehearsal day brings something unique. One day your Esmeralda variation might be flawless and graceful, then the next, you look like it’s your first time in pointe shoes! Chiaroscuro feels organic and effortless, then the next day you can hardly stand on your own two feet. This is why rehearsal and repetition are great for dancers. It helps to find the balance of being consistent, yet maintaining the ability to convey the emotions and feelings you had when the choreography was first learned.
The beauty of live theater is that no two performances are the same. Rehearsal is often like that. Although we strive for consistency, each rehearsal is different. We may run Chiaroscuro every day of the week, even though the steps do not change - the emotion, intention and approach may differentiate.
Almost every piece, like Chiaroscuro and Esmeralda, in Ballet Arkansas’ performance, Tour de Force, have two separate casts - Cast A and Cast B. It’s always interesting to see how one cast or one dancer may interpret a role different than the other cast or dancer who share the same role.
Choreographers generally give dancers a direction. The choreographer expresses their thought process, the inspiration, or the story behind the piece. This allows the dancer to then explore and recreate the choreographer's vision. It's fascinating to see how each dancer personalizes and examines the choreography.
Rehearsals are underway, and although rehearsal time is essential, nutrition and rest is just as important! Nutrition and rest (if you're lucky) is key when trying to stay strong and healthy leading up to the performance. Not only physically, but mentally as well. Your body is taking heavy beating, it seems like every day you hurt worse and worse. You start feeling pain in tendons you never knew you had! All the sudden you feel ten years older! What’s happening? Oh, right! Its performance time!
Luckily, Ballet Arkansas has a great chiropractor and massage therapist, who graciously provide care for the dancers. However, this does not always do the trick. Dancers are particularly aware of their body. If there is an issue, the body will tell you. But, dancers have a high pain tolerance and can push through most minor aches and pains. Bring on the icy hot, bring on the ibuprofen, and we feel as good as new! We are ready to perform!
It has been an amazing start to the spring season. Rehearsals have been full of energy and intent. We are beyond excited to perform four exhilarating, classical, and contemporary dance premiers at UA Pulaski Tech’s CHARTS Theater, February 16-18. We hope to see you there!