[you will notice how long it has been between the night of the events detailed in this post and now. I apologize for my long lack of updates. At first I was too excited, and then Easter came, and now I finally have gotten a chance to do this for you.]
Monday, March 31, 2015
Tonight was our Adjudication timeslot. I didn’t expect to be nervous – not at all. I’m not often nervous for dance performances – not anything more than a quickened heartbeat and excited anticipation, anyway. I guess being practically born and raised on the stage has its benefits. Given that, I didn’t expect to be nervous at all for our Adjudication. I wasn’t even dancing – all I had to do was stand back and watch, right? Piece of cake.
My golly dickens, though. Somehow between walking in the dance studio and handing my info sheet to the panel of adjudicators and pushing play on my music, I progressed from cool, calm, and collected to quite literally shaking like a leaf. I always thought books were exaggerating when they said characters’ knees knocked together out of nervousness or fright. But I am wiser now. It’s so true.
It was just my dancers and I walking into 207, the big studio. The white backdrop was down, and the adjudicators sat at the other end of the studio behind tables. They were as follows: Steven, my Dance Comp teacher; Angie, another of the dance faculty; Mr. Richard Rivera, the guest adjudicator; and Erik, the stellar lighting and sound designer. I handed them my information sheet while my dancers got ready. There was a bit of confusion when they discovered the title for my piece is in Old English, and thus is not entirely made of normal-English-alphabet letters. There was a bit more confusion when we discovered that the CD I made would not play on the studio CD player, despite it working fine one minute ago on my computer. According to Erik, I burned it wrong. Or something. The panic began to set in when I realized my computer was running on low battery and may not last through the entirety of my piece, to play the music from it.
It was at this point that I observed to myself that yes, knees really can knock together uncontrollably. Poor planning ahead on my part. Yes. But we prevailed, and went for it anyway.
My dancers performed splendidly. My computer did die, cutting the music out – but it lasted through almost the entire piece, and it died conveniently in the middle of a long moment of silence, so no one knew except my dancers. Score. Since I had just taught the last bit of choreography the night before, the ending was a bit rough. But the adjudicators didn’t seem to really notice that, so we still win. =)
After the piece finished, my dancers came to sit at the front of the makeshift “stage,” and I got to sit on the hot seat – a piano bench pulled directly in front of the panel of adjudicators. I had to sit there in front of them and stare them in the eyes while they ripped the child of my heart and the product of so many weeks of difficult, sometimes agonizing, always terribly exciting labor to shreds.
Only then they didn’t.
Criticism, yes – of course there was criticism. But overall, they had so many more good things to say than I expected! I am so, so proud of my dancers for helping me make this vision of mine come true, and so, so proud of myself for the work that I have done to bring us all to this point.
Mr. Rivera felt as though the piece had too many layers – acting and reading and music and different languages and dance. But even this criticism was offered as an “I’m not really sure you should change it” instead of a “well this needs to die.” Steven agreed with Mr. Rivera, a little – but he also gave, in brief, suggestions as to how I could use these layers to my advantage, rather than having to get rid of some of them. Erik didn;t have much to say – just some comments on making sure I had no popping sounds in my music (which I don’t – it just sounded like I did because my computer died). But the crowning glory?
The whole time that Mr. Rivera was detailing the things that confused him or the places he woudl suggest changes, and the whole time Steven and Erik were staring silently (and bloody terrifyingly) at me, Angie was sitting there, leaned back in her chair, with the biggest grin on her face I have ever seen. Just sitting there, nodding her head at me and mouthing silently behind the backs of the other Adjudicators, “I love it. I love it, don’t change it, don’t listen to them – I love it.”
I have pleased Angie. I have done a good thing. Angie is impressed – Angie loves what I have created.
I think I win.
After the adjudication we definitely all went out in the hall and partied quietly. I also adjudicated a solo I choreographed, so I had to go right back in there to that terrifying panel of judges and dance for them myself. Which, incidentally, went even better than my wildest dreams ever could have imagined – not a single one of the adjudicators had even a single word of criticism to say. Every one of them looked at me and said, yes, that is beautiful, that is perfect, keep it just the way it is.
The praise, combined with the nerves, rendered me nearly immobile. I do not exaggerate at all – it was quite literally all I could do to walk upright out of the studio and collect my things to cross the street back to my apartment. I got back and collapsed on my bed – and by collapsed, I don’t mean I sat down. I mean everything literally just gave out and my bed happened to be in the right place to catch me. I have never been so nervous in my life – or so happy – so blissfully, utterly, completely happy. and so proud of myself and what I have done.
My very dear friend Katharyn brought me ice cream afterwards. Knocked on my door at 12:37 in the morning with a pint of ice cream and the biggest smile. And nobody cared that it was so long after midnight, and nobody cared that I still had to concentrate to keep from shaking too hard to hold a spoon.
I cannot thank my dancers or poem-reader enough, for going along with my crazy schemes. And I cannot thank friends like Katharyn and my beautiful roommate-in-Wales enough for celebrating with me, even with ice cream long past midnight. And I cannot thank Angie enough for mouthing “I love it!” at me over and over behind the backs of the other adjudicators. That is a moment that will stick with me forever. And I cannot believe…simply cannot fathom what a good thing I am doing, what a good thing I have done. I have succeeded. It’s not done yet – not by a long shot – but what I have done? It is a good thing. I have done well – more than well. I have made people proud – and not just any people. I have shown something to people who have danced professionally, or worked with dance professionally, in some manner their whole lives, and they saw it and told me that it was good.
Yea. Yes. I totally win.