Reimagining Class

The end of the second week of freelancing saw me heading off to York for the weekend to celebrate my birthday, but it also gave me a little bit of space to muse about the past few days.

As a company dancer, class was always functional. It was about mobilisation, lubrication, waking up and preparing. It was for the most part rep specific, often generic and mostly energy conserving. It was about getting ready for a full day of rehearsing and/or performing and for the most part I feel I went into autopilot.

Disclaimer: This is how I felt about class in a company, and is definitely not representative of my fellow colleagues or indeed company class in general. Although I do of course welcome opinions and experiences from others!

I was a little bit cautious to write this as I am keen not to sound lazy, or like I sleepwalked through the first hour and a half of my working day. Rather, I want to stress that my focus for morning class was vastly different to that of class in school and now as I’ve found as an (attempting) freelancer, and I find that curious. It seems logical when I contemplate it that I found a sort of stasis over the past two years. Some days I was so physically exhausted that it took me the whole hour and a half to actually feel like I could inhabit my body. Other days I was so conscious of the working day ahead, that I knew that pushing it would again be a mistake. When you discover that you produce your best work when you’re physically tired, but not exhausted, it means you’re constantly treading the fine line between under and over cooking it. Undercooking it, meant my nerves would jump around my body and I found it impossible to push it down to the ground on stage, whereas, overcooking it and I was a Captain Jelly Legs and feeling sick. Neither ideal, and hence, it seems my cautiousness towards class seems rationalised.

Now I am presented with class being my sole dancing for the day. Perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t have to dance for the whole day, or that I’m paying for class, or the new surroundings, teachers and techniques, but class is completely different. Of course I’m being naive- all of the above factors certainly affect my experience of class- I don’t need to measure my energy or have much residual tiredness at the start of the day.

As expected, I have an increased appetite for trying in class, for exploring and pushing myself. I want to make the most of the hour and a half, but curiously I lack mental stamina. I’m gripped by the need to have everything almost immediately. I question whether this is a prolongation of the audition mentality, or the preparation for it. But when I’m in an environment poised for failing, trying, laughing why I am approaching it like this? Could it also be an overspill from the company environment where time is short and productivity demands are high?

In Gaga today I was faced with mental stamina in an improvisation scenario and it’s even worse. I found myself inwardly groaning throughout the class- not because the class was bad (on the contrary it was beautiful), but because it served to just exacerbate this lack of mental stamina within myself. It felt like seconds before I was ready to move onto something new. I hadn’t mastered the task, or explored every possibility so why did I have this burning desire to keep going? An insatiable appetite to complete and progress.

I think it’s a case of slowing down. Maybe I need to become so stuck that I shut down. How do you cultivate patience? Practise, surely. Breath, certainly. Respect, most definitely.

As before- thoughts, ideas, experiences happily received.

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