Updated: Feb 20, 2022
I have always loved to perform. I used to entertain my parents' dinner guests with impromptu shows in the living room and I feel grateful to have had a career where I did the same thing on a grander scale around the world! There is something so intoxicating about sharing myself with someone right in front of me. I recently revisited a solo I created back in 2014 for Visceral Dance Chicago's
annual "Solus" concert. I loved the performance the soloist, Cody Szarko, gave in the video and was very surprised at how well it translated through the camera. Most of my colleagues would certainly agree that experiencing a live performance is unmatched by a recorded one. What is it that gave me such honest enjoyment at watching this performance?
When I teach I am always speaking about sincerity in performance (that goes for performance in class as well!) and I can clearly see this in the video. I remember the choreography and the main points that I developed for the character and just as importantly I recall giving him the freedom to explore within that framework. Even though I gave very precise movement ideas and musical phrasing the piece was really a sketch. Had I not been flexible in its development then he would not have given such an honest performance. He was trusted with the responsibility to develop his character in the moment, fresh every time. He weaved around the structure but never wavered from the spirit of the character or main point of the scene. The character was designed to play with the audience and not play to the audience. It is actually a pretty complex situation in performance but he managed it with grace and authority. His character vacillated between childish abandonment and a deeper acknowledgment of the self. There is a subtle shift from being a voyeur to a participant for the audience and this approach both entertains and draws in the spectators.
I share this all really to illustrate the importance of analytical thinking by the dancer. There need to be purposeful decisions made that support the movement and align with the journey of the character. Simply executing the steps is fun for the audience up to a point but without further considerations by the dancer, I find it leaves the audience short on any lasting emotional satisfaction. I like a performance to linger in me when I leave the theater. It's about the craft above all else. Make a connection with your audience by remembering that you are a person communicating with another. Have fun, do not self-judge but rather self-analyze and be honest in the moment.
All the best,
Art that moves moves me.