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Day 36 - Spacing and Dress Rehearsal

My brain won’t really shut down enough to sleep. I turn on the computer tentatively at 6 a.m. to realize whatever problem hasn’t solved itself while I wasn’t looking. I can’t sleep, so I call my father and wake him up, but also because I know he can solve the problem by loaning me a computer. That problem tentatively fixed, I’m able to sleep a few more hours (and probably owe those hours of rest to my father in some Karmic Sleep Bank. Thanks, Dad.)

I go to the office for last minute preparations. I drop off my computer with my father to be fixed and check email and write hurried notes to people. I take one of the six copies of Time Out that I bought and cut and paste it into a single page layout which I run down to the copy shop to have enlarged. Press material and other boxes are loaded into a friend’s Jeep for an inordinately long drive downtown where I narrowly avoid being late for spacing rehearsal.

The main difficulty in the theater for me is to mediate between the technical staff and the dancers, who immediately begin complaining that the floor is too slippery, the lights are too bright, etc. The first action I take is to delegate that all issues will go through Mary to me or Jeff, partly because I don’t want to hear the same thing six times, but mostly because Mary is reasonable. Another dancer has already asked that the marley floor be relaid because of a gap. We have exactly eight hours in the theater daily and it takes at least two hours to lay down a floor. I ask her when she expects this to be done. Dealing with the slipperiness of the floor is a necessary issue, we have a small showdown with the theater on the use of rosin to achieve a compromise that allows rosin boxes, but not the use of rosin on the stage. Jeff asks me to get ammonia for mopping the floor tomorrow, I stupidly ask the theater director where it can be bought, where she predictably tells me it can’t be used on the floor. I’ve already figured out that the best course of action is to nod my head and buy it anyway.

There will be two rehearsals today, a walkthrough to adjust spacing and a dress rehearsal after a dinner break. The space is a good deal wider than the studio we worked in so adjustments need to be made for entries and exits, but fewer for the dances themselves. Spacing rehearsal goes with no major incidents, but a walk-through without lights is not the same as a full-out run. Dress rehearsal is another matter.

I don’t believe in smooth dress rehearsals, because people tend to relax in a bad way after a good performance, and the next performance catches them unaware. I’ve seen this happen more than once. This one was not smooth, although not bad - if we were able to rehearse all the pieces in the time allotted, and we were, it can’t qualify as bad. There were missed entrances and difficulties with crossovers. Tensions about lights seemed to dissipate once the lights were gelled, but not problems with the floor. A very thorough mopping is scheduled. The major problem is that Abraham is working all wrong - too tense and nervous and trying to overcompensate for it - he’s making horrible faces and he blows the double tour to the knee in Armature and starts swearing and stamping. He never has this problem in the studio, but the blackness of the house instinctively throws the dancers back. By Horizon, something is wrong, he’s obviously in pain, and stupidly trying to dance full-out through it. I shout from the house for him to mark, and his partner, Adriana, tells him the same thing. Since he’s not unable to move, I know it’s not a desperate situation, but it still is one that needs immediate attention. We get him to walk the rest of the ballet, and he goes upstairs and collapses on his back. Mary begins by seeing if anyone else in the cast has a muscle relaxant, and I gather up his clothing from the dressing room and make sure he has food and something to drink. It’s pretty obvious he’s sprained a back muscle, but not too seriously. Once we know what’s up, and I make sure he’s ok and feels better, then I start to yell at him that he can’t work like that and that kind of tension and inefficiency only leads to injury. “Stay on your back tonight! And don’t try to test it!” He looks at me guiltily because I’ve read his mind. We get his stuff and take him to the street and bundle him into a cab and safely home. I know there are lifts I’ll have to change tomorrow, but I spent my entire career with back pain, and know what it looks like. He’ll be able to dance.