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Day 22 - 21 days until the performance, first day of rehearsals for Horizon.

Oh Lord what a day. By the end of it I was pleased we had all gotten through it without injury. The ballet’s already set. We just have to learn it from the video. You’d think this wouldn’t be so awful.

Maybe it’s just that it was the first day of the work, which is proving to be disproportionately tense every time. Maybe it’s the humidity. But the angst level in the room was surpassed today only by the tension level, almost all of it inexplicable to me. After all, for me, the worst is over, for the dancers, the scary part is just beginning. But the atmosphere in the room can be exemplified by the several separate incidents of near injury, such as Adriana nearly overshooting Abraham in a jump. Or Frances landing wrong in a slide (and me being able to see that wrong landing coming miles away and being unable to stop it.) Or perhaps even more awful, me stepping on Frances’ pointe shoe in a fit of distracted activity, recoiling in shock when I realized what I had done and crashing my head right into her chin. Somehow it all made perfect sense when Bartok, the studio spaniel, escaped from the back where he stays and cornered Adriana, snarling.

I intimidated Bartok back into his area and immediately gave an extra enforced break, just to dispel the awful karma buildup in the room. (Would it have worked to throw the windows open?) , I desperately wanted a margarita, or at minimum to perform some sort of purification ritual on the studio. When we returned, I tried to remind everyone that there wasn’t going to be a quiz, nor did I need to see it ready for the stage. We’re just learning it. Please don’t kill each other, or yourselves.

On top of it all, I felt unprepared. I haven’t had time to learn the ballet, but probably couldn’t have learned it anyway without going into a studio and doing exactly what I’m doing with the dancers, watching a passage at a time, first the men, then the women. Adriana, bless her heart, is an extremely quick study from video, but dancers can’t tell spatial patterns from a video, it’s too flat a rendering. A horizontal pattern looks almost the same as a diagonal line in the video, and for that, I become crucial, and also, I know the idiosyncrasies of the performers and that specific performance, what’s the choreography, and what’s just something that happened that night.

I guess everyone was nervous because there was a previous cast to live up to (with no disrespect to the fine original cast, they needn’t be. They’re all capable of doing this ballet quite well.) Then there was the unitard angst, which goes with the territory of being a ballet dancer. I called David this evening to ask him to look at the unitards and do some sort of voodoo on them. What’s odd to me is for the life of me, I can’t recall a single member of the original cast complaining about them, but like the steps themselves, they were built on them. There’s a big difference between that and wearing someone else’s clothing and stepping into someone else’s role.