We’re More Than Just Instruments

June 3, 2008

Whenever I’m cast in a new ballet, I get shivers of excitement and anticipation. What music is being used? What will the movement be like? Will the costumes be flattering? Who will I dance with? There are so many aspects of the creative process that jumpstart my energy level. And although I have no choreographic impulses of my own, I love to contribute to new works!  

I’ve learned to be a malleable mold for the choreographer, to surrender myself to his/her vision in an effort to embody their individual style. My first (substantial) original role was in Christopher Wheeldon’s “Sea Pictures,” a narrative about relationships in a sea-faring community. He had a clear vision of what he wanted and yet he encouraged my partner and me to experiment with certain movements, just to “see what happens.” Working with Chris opened my eyes to my own creative potential; he allowed me the freedom to see what my body could do without technical restriction and self-consciousness. He showed me that a new work is a collaboration between the choreographer and the dancer…that my individuality made me more than a lifeless and generic instrument. So I took this early lesson and ran with it, hooked on working with Chris and participating in other people’s creative visions. I certainly have no talent for putting two steps together, but I try to make an effective contribution through the power of suggestion.  

So why am I writing this? I suppose I want all of you feel reassured in your own potential, to take on new choreography and to believe in your own ability to create something innovative and interesting. You don’t have to be a puppet and leave your personality at the door—what makes us different inspires choreographers and brings fresh life to our art. Just embrace the things that make you unique, challenge yourself, and enjoy the thrill of the process!

P.S. Back in April, I told you about a contemporary Philadelphia-based company called BalletX…and you can still catch their most recent program! It will be broadcast on the WHYY channel as part of a new series devoted to performing arts in the region. Here’s the info if you live in the area:

Channel 241 for Comcast

Channel 12.2 for DTV

Channel 874 for Verizon FiOS

Wednesday, June 11 at 9 pm

Thursday, June 12 at 10 pm

Friday, June 13 at 11 pm

Saturday, June 14 at 8 pm

Sunday, June 15 at 2 pm

Monday, June 16 at 7 pm

Tuesday, June 17 at 8 pm