Day 136: Who Am I in a Group? Dancing with a Ghost

In my previous blog I shared my experience in joining a dance company and specifically my experience of myself within the group that I really enjoyed. Nothing would seem to change that, until a week before the premier of our new production. It was a Saturday morning. One of the girls said she wouldn't be able to come because she had planned a weekend to the beach with her boyfriend, they had left straight after rehearsal the night before, all excited. So there we were in the studio and our choreographer told us she had received a phone call from the girl's parents. On the way to the beach, the girl and her boyfriend had gotten in a car crash. The boyfriend was okay, but the girl had been sleeping on the backseats without her sea tbelt and was flung through the windscreen. She didn't survive the crash. No need to say we were soon all in tears after hearing the news - more so because she was only 17, the second youngest dancer in the group.

From being a happy worriless bunch, we started trying to keep it together and pull each other up. We revised the production in a week's time so it could be performed with one less dancer, as well as adding in a whole section in tribute of her. There was one particular moment in the performance where she would normally be standing right behind me - the lyrics going 'Will you dance with me?'. Although I wouldn't be able to see her - I would always feel her presence. And after she died, whenever we got to this particular section, I would feel her absence. Somehow we managed to pull off the premier without problems - until the moment of bowing and everyone applauding - we all burst into tears on stage.

We danced at her funeral at the request of her parents - that time we were already in tears before we started.

Although we all tried to support each other the best we knew how and everyone tried to mourn her loss in their own way, trying to move forward as a group and somehow managing to - her death to me was like a 'stain' on what we had as a group - and without consciously intending to, I became more reserved. I also didn't like how the girl was glorified after she died - there had been some tensions between her and the choreographer as the reason she had joined the company was in relation to a school project where she would merge hip hop with contemporary dance and perform it with the company as her 'final work' for school. She would be choreographing it together with our choreographer and in that process they didn't always see eye to eye - but that was not discussed. She was an angel now.

To be continued.


Day 135: Who am I in a Group? Dance Company Pt2

In a previous post I shared how I danced an amateur dance company after quitting my professional dance training and where - we first got to know and trust each other physically.

So - it is an interesting way of getting to know people - you kind of skip the small-talk and start with physical comfortability. Looking back, there's many I still didn't know much about - in terms of their past, their lives. We would just share moments with each other - the time we spent together rehearsing and performing. But even if we didn't necesarily know much about each other's lives, we would know each other's bodies, from the perspective of what they physically feel like, how they move, where their physical weaknesses and strenghts lie and we would know each other in how we interacted in a moment, sometimes sharing some points that were gonig on in our lives, but there generally wasn't much 'time' to really go into that.

What was also distinct about getting to know people as I did when joining the dance company, is that it wasn't not based upon clothing style for instance. We would only see each other in our 'proper clothes' for a few seconds as we came in to the changing room, but then changed into our dancing clothes - which were just loose pants and comfortable shirts. So - everyone basically looked the same or similar. Another distinction was that in my life, when being in a group, it had mostly been age-dependent - in schools, on camps, music classes, dance classes - you were divided into groups of people of your own age. But in this dance company - our ages ranged from the youngest being about 15 and the oldest in their 30s.

To keep it short - we were tight, lol. No one had issues with anyone - some were closer or 'hit it off better' with certain people than with others. Herein it was fascinating that, initially, I got to know those people with whom I was most in sync while dancing, the youngest guy in the company and a young lady. In the first piece that I was a part of in the company, I by chance also had to work closely with the two of them - the comfortability in movement seemed to allow us to be comfortable in general interaction - even though - if I had met them on the street, I might no thave given them a second glance. Those whose dancing style was different to mine - in terms of timing or intensity or speed, or whatever - took me longer to have conversations with. The choreographer, thankfully, meant to give us the best opportunities to expand, so she would for instance place me in a duet with a girl whose natural dancing style was opposite to mine - it took me longer to become comfortable with her - but as we practiced our duet and each started learning from each other, together creating something new - the communication and interaction also started flowing more.

So - this is the process that I walked with each of the dancers - where eventually, I was comfortable with each one - our interaction was easy, flowing. Everyone came to dance in terms of what they enjoy doing - so we didn't bring our personal worries or troubles into the group - we were there to have a good time. Many nights, I would dread getting out of the couch and out to the train station to a rehearsal, for some reason thinking it might not be fun that night - but every time I did go - and every time I was so glad that I did, because it was just so AWESOME, lol - where I couldn't remember why I doubted that it would be anything different. I suppose I had gotten used to the fun being drained out of things after a while - and that was something that didn't happen in the dance company - at least not until something drastic happened.

To be continued...