NYCB In Tokyo: Feeling Vs. Presentation

October 12, 2009

I’m as red as a cooked lobster. Not just my hands, which have been red due to a mild case of carpel-tunnel syndrome caused by a week of using chopsticks, but my whole body is bright red from soaking in a scalding bath in an attempt to undo the damage done to me from dancing Symphony in Three Movements.


Aside from The Nutcracker, Symphony in Three is my longest run in a ballet. I have been dancing this role since my SAB Workshop back in 1996. I hope that I have progressed in it, but it still feels the same. I still have the same insecurities about it as I did back then. Symphony in Three was the first ballet that I ever learned where you have to count the music. I was in way over my head. What are silent counts? If there are no audible notes, why am I counting? Back at SAB it seemed as though everyone had been listening to Stravinsky’s music all their life, and my biggest claim to fame before I left home was dancing in ballets with names like ‘Butterflies and Flowers’.


But back to the performance. In Symphony in Three my role has been given the name ‘jumping boy’, so needless to say, I jump a lot, which I love aside from the fact that each jump has a landing. After our rehearsal the other day, I was back at the hotel resting and my left quad was throbbing. Throbbing like your heart the first time you fall in love. Why is my one leg dying while my other one is fine and dandy? I thought about it for a while and realized that in Symphony in Three, I only jump from my right leg six times. Six times in an entire ballet. No wonder my left quad is twice the size of my right one and I’m walking with a slight curve.


After the scalding soak and a meeting with my bottle of Aleve (please endorse me!), I began to feel better and begin to reevaluate my performance. I’m not a dancer who comes off the stage and professes victory. I am my biggest critic and a lot of the times I’m not a fan. There is a constant struggle between the feeling and the presentation of a performance, and sometimes it is hard to get past the feeling. A slight slip of a foot feels like a Monty Python gag fall, but in reality, the audience doesn’t see a thing. But a dancer’s brain is like a magnifying glass and it takes a massive amount of self-control to honestly know what your performance actually looked like.


So, I just have this evening’s performance and that will be it for me here in Tokyo. I can’t tell if time has flown by or dragged on. As I’ve said, perpetual daylight, maybe I’m still on day one and this has all been a dream. If that is the case, it has been a very good dream, full of sushi, karaoke, Harajuku girls, crazy men’s haircuts, and sidewalks packed like sardines. I love everything about Tokyo. Even the things that I don’t like somehow become endearing to me. You may feel like a tiny insignificant tourist, being taken around the city by a bustling current of people, but when you walk in to a restaurant and everyone yells “Welcome!” in Japanese, you can’t help but feeling great and loving where you are.