What It Takes To Warm Up For & Wind Down From Tough Performances
For demanding, vulnerable performances, the mental warm-up and wind-down is unique to each artist. Three dancers share how they get in the zone, and come back to normal life afterward:
Erina Takahashi, English National Ballet Principal
On performance days, Erina Takahashi (here in Akram Khan's Giselle) doesn't think about her character until she's putting on her makeup and costume. Photo by Laurent Liotardo, courtesy ENB
Takahashi prefers not to think about a character too much during the day, otherwise she can get overwhelmed. "I get into the zone when I start hair and makeup, and once the costume goes on, I am Giselle," she says. Listening to music in her dressing room keeps her relaxed.
After a show, she needs to mentally recover: In Giselle's final pas de deux, Takahashi describes her own heart physically aching, and sometimes she feels unable to smile during the curtain call. "It is such a deeply internal show—it takes a while to come back to reality."
Samantha Speis, Urban Bush Women
Spies (left) showers before and after tough performances. Photo by Nathea Lee, courtesy UBW
Spies finds a cleansing power in water. "I take a shower beforehand. It's a refreshing restart," she says. "What we do onstage can be really emotionally taxing, so I have to prepare for that." After bows, she again showers to rinse off the performance, and move into a different state. "If I don't," she says, "I feel a little off, not myself." She also gives herself at least two hours to stretch post-performance.
Tsai-Wei Tien, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
Tien is sometimes so exhausted after emotional performances that she can barely walk. Photo via peculiarman.com.
Tien says there is surprisingly little mental transition needed after the extreme sacrifice as the Chosen One in Pina Bausch's epic Rite of Spring. "The moment I fall and die, it is over in my brain," she says. Instead, it's her body that takes a while to recover. "Sometimes I cannot walk properly because my muscles are so exhausted."
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
Every dancer knows there's as much magic taking place backstage as there is in what the audience sees onstage. Behind the scenes, it takes a village, says American Ballet Theatre's wig and makeup supervisor, Rena Most. With wig and makeup preparations happening in a studio of their own as the dancers rehearse, Most and her team work to make sure not a single detail is lost.
Dance Magazine recently spoke to Most to find out what actually goes into the hair and makeup looks audiences see on the ABT stage.
On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.
SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.