NYCB's Opening Night in Tokyo

October 10, 2009

Is this dancing?


How can it be that just by flying overseas for half a day, and then relaxing and acclimating yourself to a new time zone, that you lose all ability to dance? We all rehearsed in New York before leaving for Tokyo. We had our final rehearsals and everything felt great, more or less. Now, it’s as though some stranger has possessed my body and he’s getting a great thrill out of watching me try in vain to move my body how it should.

The first day of rehearsal on any tour is quite amusing. You know all of the steps and spacing, but when you finally get onstage nothing seems to go well. There are so many extra variables that we all have to come to grips with and eventually overcome. A bigger or smaller stage, crazy backstage crossovers, different lighting, different orchestras, different sightlines, the list goes on and on.

There’s so much self-applied pressure while dancing on tour. You feel as though you are representing your country, your company, your style of dance and yourself, the dancer, all at once. You don’t know if your audience has come expecting an old story ballet with ridged tutus and massive sets and you’re about to blow their mind with the sleekness of Agon, or if they’re expecting some post-modern, roll around the floor and bark like a dog performance art piece, only to end up crying in their seats while watching Serenade.

But I always come and watch Opening Night on tour because without a doubt, it will all look new to me. To dance in a new space will always bring out something better in your dancing. Just like how you may love a painting hanging on the wall of your home, but after a while you don’t even see it anymore, you almost look through it. But one day you decide to move it to another spot, and voilà, it once again pulls at your heart to see it. That’s how tour is. It refreshes everything. I don’t think that everyone is consciously trying to revitalize their work, but it just happens, and it’s beautiful to see.