As a performer, my main goal in life is to shine. Well, that is what I am supposed to do. It is what we are all told or tell ourselves whenever we are about to enter the spotlights of the stage. Isn’t it? Be the brightest star.
But actually, it is not always that easy.
Other thoughts like to creep up on me causing me to doubt and question what I am about to do, question what I have worked on for weeks. And even though I should know I am ready for my shining moment I don’t always feel ready. I question if I have rehearsed enough- did I spend enough time in the studio? The nerves build inside me throughout the day of the performance and I am sure I am not alone in experiencing pre-show anxieties. It is these feelings that can dull our light on stage and prevent that bubbly feeling of dancing.
As some of you may know, since last season I have been dealing with a foot injury which is frustratingly still giving me moments of pain, and there have still been times after performing when I have had to rip my shoe off to give my foot relief. Thankfully the pain subsides and I can slowly get it moving again but I have had to resort to taking some pain/ anti-inflammatory tablets, which I hate to admit, to help get through some shows. And even if I don’t experience too much discomfort I am constantly worried I will aggravate the foot and am therefore cautious, and who wants to be cautious when you are supposed to be dancing your heart out? So as you can imagine, I am often feeling nervous to be on stage because I am not able to concentrate on the dancing as the worry and pain become my main concern.
It was only recently while performing ‘The Nutcracker‘ during the company’s tour to Basel that I had a real shiny moment that brought back the sparkly feelings of dancing on stage – I finally managed to dance pain-free and worry free. It was within the second performance when I realised I could relax and remembered what it was like to dance how I did before my injury and it has honestly been such a long time since I danced like that.
And I just wanted to shine. I wanted everyone to look at me because I once again felt like me. I wanted to dance. I felt free to dance and I was able to relax into it. My smile grew and grew while my heart filled with happiness. It was amazing.
I hope this can be a step forward for my foot (literally) but as I can not guarantee that I most of all want to take this feeling into every dance I do because it is so easy to forget it and just to worry about everything else that could happen. I don’t want worry to tarnish my performances, or anyone else’s. We all deserve a shining moment, in whatever way it may be and we shouldn’t let doubt or nerves override the happiness. Let the shine tarnish the worry and conceal the pain. Your heart will beat so fast if you do.
Header photograph by Jochen Klenk