Leaving Beijing: The Works’ Final Performance

December 18, 2008

We all know the saying “You win some, you lose some.� For dancers, performing is not simply winning or losing. We have grey areas, grey performances, moments that aren’t quite 100 percent. This is how I felt after our Sunday night performance in Beijing. A little grey. Nothing went terribly wrong, no one fell, no one got dropped, the lights stayed on, but it just didn’t feel amazing. I had some sensational moments, sure, but overall (and compared to Saturday night), I didn’t know what to think.

Part of the problem is that dancers are perfectionists. If a piece doesn’t go flawlessly, I too easily feel negative. This program had many technical aspects to deal with and there are never enough hours before the show. The last piece, Bounce, has a vertical trampoline set up onstage in the corner, and we fling and rebound our bodies off of it. Because of tech difficulties, the trampoline didn’t have the spring we were used to, so our bounces became challenging and unpredictable. Maybe my worrying about the unfamiliar tramp rattled my nerves and the rest of my performance?

I reminded myself that a dancer can never see what the piece as a whole looks like, she can only know what it feels like from inside the stage and her body. When we got to the post-show reception given by our sponsor and saw everyone’s excited faces, I decided to cut myself some slack. They loved it! Although language barriers were a factor, communicating their enjoyment required no translator. We ended up having a great time that night (the food was incredible, so that definitely helped!) and my negativity began to lift.

Since we were leaving on Monday afternoon, we woke up early to squeeze in our last few sightseeing hours. We couldn’t get a cab, so our guide took us on a public bus—an exciting experience to say the least. I’ve seen the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square in movies and pictures, but nothing compares to actually being there. The magnitude of the square and all the emperor’s buildings was so outrageous. Of course we had to take various dance pictures on the landmarks, like a ballet fish lift in the square or bits of Muller rep. Yep, official dance geeks.

The best part of the day, though, was totally unplanned. Remember the Chinese scarf dancers from my first blog, the ones on the street at night? We came across a whole group in Jingshan Park dancing with long ribbons. One of ladies offered a handle to us, so we each took turns ribbon dancing with the ladies! A crowd started to form, which became humorous as we easily got ourselves tangled and knotted up, but it didn’t matter. What a unique experience to share! And as my wise fortune cookie said I could “shake the world,� I discovered the opposite is equally true. If I am open, the world can shake me! Our first China tour was an undeniable success, and I cannot wait to go back.