Balance is a word that is constantly floating around my mind. It is a goal that I, and I'm sure many other dancers, instructors, and choreographers are always trying to properly achieve. Now, I don't mean equilibrium, strong core and back muscles balance. Yes, that is always important but no. I mean balance in teaching, in choreography and in life. Now, I could easily focus on finding balance in teaching but that's not where my head's at today, so were gonna take a crack at the other two.
Okay, so it is officially dance competition season. You can usually tell it's that time of year when every time you drive by the Hamilton Convention Center you see team jackets covering sparkly costumes, and kids with heaps of show make-up and giant eyelashes. I'm not judging.
Anyway, it's near this time when us choreographers are polishing routines, deciding what to change, what to add on and what to cut. I recently looked at one of my Urban Dance pieces that has a strong theme about environmental responsibility. After watching the piece at our dress rehearsal day, I wondered if I should cut the ending, which wraps it up with a question, meant as a call to action for the viewer. Now here is the question of balance. Creatively, I like what the piece says and the questions it poses. However, the ending, though important to the theme, is anti-climactic. The dance doesn't end with a bang, but rather a whisper.
From a competitive point of view, the piece should end with a bang. Right? That will give the team a better chance of winning. Artistically, however, it doesn't complete the narrative. I want my students to do well but I want to be true to my strange preachy artistic vision. What do you do? Go for the win or go for the message? When it comes to choreography, these kinds of questions plague me. In Latin and Ballroom dance routines, audiences tend to favour the lifts and tricks, not musicality and intricate footwork. The former may not be as creatively challenging and satisfying as the latter, but it is more likely to get you booked again. What do you do? In these cases I tend try to find a spot in the middle, eventually compromising on some part of the original vision.
For a dance-artist, simply falling in the middle is not so easy. I read an article the other day about how we can really only focus on three things in life at a time from work, sleep, family, fitness, or friends. My thought was: "Damn! Three is a lot!" I'm sure for many artists that rings true, as we are our own mangers, promoters, grant writers, and so much more. We diversify what we do so much in our practices, sometimes work can take the time that should be dedicated to at least three separate things. What's tough, for me anyway, is that those other four things are crucial to my work. Sleep goes without saying. No sleep means no productivity and no energy for, well, anything. Fitness goes with sleep. As a dancer, it is an absolute necessity to stay as healthy as possible. Yes, the act of dancing regularly helps with staying in shape but the amount of stress it puts on the body requires activities and practices like physiotherapy, yoga, monitored diets and other things. As for family and friends, these are the things that affect me more than anything else. Interaction and experiences with the people I love fuel my creativity and artistry in dance. So, when I let those parts of my life drop off due to work, the work itself eventually suffers. More friends, more family, less work, little sleep and little fitness. More work, more family, less friends, little sleep and little fitness. See where I'm going with this?
So what is the answer? Where do you find the balance? Where is the middle? I'm really not sure. What I can say is that after a weekend where our students performed on Friday, my fiancée and I had our Stag & Doe Saturday, and a studio dress rehearsal on Sunday, I'm feeling a little tired. And I don't think I could do a push-up or warrior pose right now to save my life.