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Day 40 - Final performance

We all arrive late and a bit stunned for the matinee. The celebratory atmosphere of the night before felt like a closure, I have to reassure the dancers that there is still one performance left, and that it matters. They give a very strong performance, to a decent house for a matinee. All the ballets are strong, Scherzo is danced the best since the first performance. Chuck gives easily his best performance of Aubade, I only wish it had been videotaped, especially the I-stopped-counting-at-five pirouettes ending in perfect fifth position on relevé. Armature and Horizon are both solid and suddenly it’s all over.

It’s done.

We did a good job and there’s nothing more that can go wrong. I don’t need to be on alert anymore. I’ve guided them all through it all, through every potential hazard. I get a gold star.

I go to the dressing room in a haze, having packed the auction items and left them in boxes at the loading dock. The men’s dressing room is eerily clean; there’s not even a trace of Ted and Barry there. Chuck left after the final intermission; he had to pack and go to Toronto the following day to dance Swan Lake with the National Ballet of Canada. I don’t really want to say good bye to anyone though. I hate the sense of closure, as if the moment can never be retrieved. The tiny voice inside of me as people praised the performance kept asking, “But what if this is the best thing I ever do? What if this is the top?” But I think the best thing I ever do will be the thing that I am doing now, today. I didn’t watch Horizon with much interest even though it was many other people’s favorite ballet. I made it six years ago; in some ways it feels like a stranger. And yet, I also got to revisit the past and re-write it. I re-made a ballet I was dissatisfied with in 1995 and I got it right this time. I felt the 1998 concert was nearly crippled by personnel issues. This year I felt I managed the production with efficiency and mastery - almost like a zen warrior. I learned how to work; I learned to be sure to do what was necessary and to not do the unnecessary. Seemingly unrelated, but crucially, I was able to care for myself through the concert, there was always something for me to eat and clean clothing to wear. My apartment was navigable; I was able to even accomplish things other than the concert (knitting, some writing, even this diary.) When one lives alone, there’s no one to care for you if you can’t. And if you can’t, depression follows soon after.

At the end of the 1996 concert, I nearly quit choreographing. I had done a good job, but couldn’t see how that possibly mattered, I was making no headway towards a career as a choreographer, managing only to throw myself further into debt. I took what I said was a year’s hiatus, but I didn’t know whether it wasn’t actually forever. The time when I knew I needed to start the 1998 concert kept approaching nearer and I was paralyzed with indecision and fear as to whether to go on and risk the pain or just give up. But if I didn’t choreograph, no matter what else I did, I wasn’t sure who I was. So I went back, thinking, “Better a flawed personality than none at all.” And I did give up. I didn’t give up trying to choreograph well, I just decided to give up trying to get what I thought was somehow my recognition due from others. If the only person in the audience was me, I still had made the ballet and that was what mattered. When I looked at the ballets during the performances this year, I realized finally that I what I wanted most was simply to see them, to watch them. I made them because I wanted them to be made. And even though their existence is as evanescent as all of dance is, they still constitute a map of my life. It may be written in mist or sand, but there is still something indelible in the writing, something that makes sense of the fact that I exist. It may be a whisper, and no one may be there to hear it, but it still persists, “I am here, I am here, I am here. . .”