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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Focus and trust

I've learned a lot from Diavolo in the past week, and I didn't even dance with them! But their presence really impacted me as far as re-evaluating and thinking about what I want to do with my dancing, what it will take to get there, short and long-term goals, my attitudes, etc.

First off, watching rehearsals with the dancers that did make it into Diavolo's piece made me realize how much focus is involved with a company of that caliber. They do some incredibly high-energy, acrobatic, borderline dangerous stuff, and if you aren't focused 100% all the time, you could cause an injury to yourself and the other dancers. Everyone in the piece talked about how intense rehearsals were, and they had the bruises and very sore muscles to prove it.

At the end of class one day, our pedagogy teacher commented on everyone's focus at these rehearsals. In a nutshell she was saying how our focus is something to access when necessary, but she doesn't believe in always "living in the moment" and constantly being engaged in that way. Turn the focus on when in class, at rehearsal, choreographing, off when doing the everyday things like driving to work, cleaning the house, doing laundry. Shifting to autopilot for the everyday tasks reserves our focus for what feeds us. I thought this perspective was incredibly insightful. And helpful. Why expend energy on things that don't matter that much? I only have so much energy and focus to use in the first place, so why not use it efficiently?

The other little nugget of wisdom I took from Diavolo was the idea of trust. After the performance last night, the cast did a Q&A with the audience. Several people asked Diavolo about how they are mentally able to dance and turn and jump off of the huge structures they use in their pieces (check out the huge boat in their "Trajectoire" piece - One girl said it comes down to trusting yourself. She said that when she got on the boat for the very first time, her reaction was to stiffen up. But then she remembered that her body will instinctually know what to do, and she relaxed and was fine. She trusted herself. She trusted her body.

Wow, that really hit home for me. I thought about things I struggle with and get so frustrated about - balancing on my left foot, maintaining correct posture when turning, just to name a couple - and a huge light-bulb flashed! All of my struggles are related to trust. I struggle with things because I don't trust my body like I should. I clench, tense, hold my breath... no good. I think "I can't do this", which just manifests itself in my body. If I think that, then, well, I'm not going to do it. I just set myself up for failure.

These little epiphanies have renewed my dedication to busting my ass and getting things done. No more fretting, no more destructive self-talk, no more excuses. Trust your body. Focus your energy on what's important. "Just fucking do it" Jacques kept saying to the dancers all week. Oui, Jacques, I will just fucking do it.

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