Things I Learned by Putting On My Own Show.
On September 10th & 12th, my dance company: The Blackguard, held debut performances with ‘Passion May Yet Be Fatal’. Thankfully we had critical acclaim and very nice words posted in articles by DanceLife Australia and Dance Editorial. You could say the show was a success, and for me it truly was. It all ended in a way that made me confident I would be doing this for a very long time.
It did not start out feeling that way.
Doubt and insecurity were my mental roommates on this mission, and they followed me all the way to the fires of Mt. Doom. In this story I guess I am Frodo, and like Frodo I learned some valuable things about myself after I got a chance to breathe and wait for the Eagles.
I’m sharing this with you because one day you may find it useful to know that we all have individual creative struggles — it’s what makes the entertainment industry so thrilling when you stick the landing.
I know this is a strange and disempowered place to start with this post, but dammit, it’s the truth: I am almost always late.
I noticed that sometimes I cut it a little fine on my way to Phly Crew rehearsals, but I’ve always chalked that up to the fact that I live so far away compared to the rest of the crew. I’ve realized that what little personal insecurity I have; it manifests itself in making me tardy for appointments; It makes me resist time and basically lie to myself about what time it is.
If I had fears about how much choreography I hadn’t prepared, if I felt lethargic about the entire process, even if I just forgot to account for rush hour delays, I would always find a way to be late.
Now that the performances have finished and I’m more confident that I can build a show, this is something that I can recognize and account for in the future.
I would be freaking out during my drive to The Next Step Performing Arts and be micro planning routines by listening to the soundtrack over and over through my crappy Mazda 3 stereo, only to get into the room with the dancers and somehow the routines would just be there. It was all there once I got to the studio.
Don’t get me wrong, it was stressful and it felt like squeezing blood from a stone, but I’ve found it best to always drop your shortcomings at the door on your way in. The choreography will be there. The ideas will show up.
I just had to be patient and pay attention to where my mind wanted to go. Then go there!
Some of my favourite parts of the show came from ideas that were batshit stupid in my head, but when brought into the real world they changed the whole creative landscape of the story.
The rare moments that I wasn’t late to my own rehearsal (shame) I would watch music videos of the artists whose songs I was choreographing to that day. Whatever got me inspired and made my brain start ticking, I would ingest that before I got into the studio.
Creativity is all about riding inspiration waves, and I would ride that wave through to make stage choices. Then it would lead me to an original idea that would spark me up and I’d ride that one until another epiphany hijacked my brain.
In a very humble way I started to be impressed with my creativity if I opened myself up enough for it to happen.
I know that sounds really warm and fuzzy and lame. But you can start to vibe off yourself in a completely honest and healthy way. I just made sure I kept going and gave myself regular pats on the back.
What I wanted more than anything out of this show was to know that I could do it.
I still remember talking to Neale Whittaker, one of my best mates from Phly Crew, in the back room of Frank & Blanco — telling him about a vision that I’d had. My end goal was to be on stage for the bows, enjoying a standing ovation. That moment would be when I knew I had finally “done it!”.
I’m clearly very picky.
But that’s exactly how it went down. Closing night left me lost for words and even better than knowing I had climbed a huge personal mountain, I was also really in love with the show I’d created. It was the moment that I realized I’m a good artist. What I mean by “good” is that I had self-actualized a goal. I had a huge idea that I thought was too big for me and I had made it a reality.
By conquering it, in a way, I had conquered myself.
There were times when I hated my ideas and wasn’t sure if they were any good at all; I hear this feeling never truly goes away. If you find yourself in a similar position just keep going. Keep pushing through and keep the snowball rolling down the hill. It ‘aint over til the fat lady gets a face full of snow.
I was blessed to have the greatest cast in the world for ‘Passion May Yet Be Fatal’. And a very convincing case can be made for them being some of the best in the world at what they do.
Every single one of them kept me held together through the process. There were moments I would almost collapse with exhaustion or I would tear up in a fit of anxiety. What can I say? I’m dramatic.
They just stood there and waited for the next set of choreography no matter what. They are the dictionary definition of professionalism and I owe my world and my heart to Maria Costa, Jordan Grant, Felicia Stav, Jervis Livelo, & Georgia Anderson.
I was really picky about the cast and I basically head hunted everyone from social media to chance meetings. But I’m so honoured to say that when I gave them my energy during this project, I got absolute spirit bombs in return.
I hope that you found something in this article to cling to. I’m going to keep documenting my creative quests so if you’ve enjoyed this, hit that heart button below.
Now go and get some standing ovations.