Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Taking a Rest, but Already Looking Ahead

The day after an intense run of performances is an interesting one. The physical fatigue is almost enjoyable (my colleagues might be thinking I'm crazy right now), because you don't have to fight it-- it's a reminder of hard work, well done, and it can be indulged. There can also be a little bit of melancholy and anti-climax when you're faced with all the details of everyday life that have gotten ignored over the preceding days (the laundry, the dust bunnies, the groceries, the bills) but all you want to do is soak in a hot tub, stretch out a bit, and eat good food. Candace Bouchard, who danced Eden's Gates (very impressively!) and Slaughter last week, eased into her one day off before heading back into the studio to start work on OBT's next project:

"Coming off the American program, where I danced a quirky, quick role in Through Eden's Gates, and ran around doing high kicks in character shoes in Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, I have thoroughly enjoyed my one morning off, delighting in a slice of ham quiche and some Stumptown coffee at Ken's Bakery while writing a bit and reading The Fountainhead. Already, I'm looking ahead to both our upcoming performances of Rush for White Bird's 4X4, and the Russian program. I'll be glad to be back in pointe shoes all the time. I miss being able to really stretch and use my feet as I dance! Rush has been beating us up on occassion over the last two weeks, when we can find time to squeeze it into the rehearsal schedule around performances of the American Program. We spin on our knees several times throughout the piece, and I have the bruises to show it! A small price to pay for two nights of dancing with PNB, San Francisco, and Eugene Ballet, though, not to mention our upcoming week at the Kennedy Center. Moving on to the Russian Program, Rubies was the first ballet we worked on my first day with OBT, as an apprentice almost five years ago. Revisiting it as the current version of myself rather than the both excited and frightened young dancer I was then should be quite a treat. I love being able to dig into something classical every once in a while, and the regal refinement I'm sure Yuri Possokhov will demand from us in Raymonda is a welcome challenge. Also, I'll be wearing the first tutu made specifically for me when we perform Raymonda, so that adds its own elegance and expectation to the experience. The only downfall to all of this is the unrelenting awareness that this is the last program of the season, and our exciting trip to Kennedy Center is followed by more than two months of far less dancing for us all. I plan to thoroughly exhaust myself over the coming weeks to culminate in a series of performances so vibrant and exciting, I'll actually welcome a rest over the summer!"

That's sort of how the life cycle goes for a ballet dancer. After pouring your body and soul into one very intensely focused piece of work, as soon as it's over, it's over. And then attention turns to the next item on the agenda, which is to start with a clean slate and sense of yet-unknown possibilities.


  1. Gavin,

    I wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed reading your posts - and while I'm sure you will be taking a rest after the spring performance, maybe we'll be fortunate enough to continue reading from you and hearing what you (and others) do on their summer off. In fact, what does a dancer do? Do they go back home to family out of state? Do many take college classes or have side jobs that they pursue? I was reading Candace's Who's your Dancer and got the impression that it's necessary to work other jobs in order to pay bills.

    It's funny in a way - the dancers probably look forward to the end of the season in order to have some relaxation, but I am always bummed at the last performance - certainly not because of the performance but because getting to watch you and the other OBT dancers is a little slice of heaven for me 1 night roughly each quarter... where all my headaches from life and work take a back seat to watching beautiful magic happen. By the end of the season I think, "oh fooy... now what can I do to see my dancers?" Frustrating to say the least. I know that dancing is a job as you've mentioned before, but to me, getting to watch you and the others, it's pure bliss.

  2. Thanks, Seth, I'm glad you've been enjoying the blog. The aim was to give our audience a bit more of an insider view on what we do, so as to increase interest and loyalty even more-- but it sounds like you're hooked already! That's wonderfully gratifying to hear how much you get out of our performances, and believe me, the last performance of the season is always bittersweet for us, too. I'll be keeping up with the blog for the foreseeable future, so you'll be able to stay in touch with us over the summer!
    And I'm planning to get some info from individual dancers about their summer plans, too, so we can all get an idea where everyone scatters to.
    Take care!