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From Sept 2013:
The other day I was in a long dance rehearsal. It has been a few months since I’ve danced that hard. The last time I was in a 4 hour dance rehearsal was in December 2012, so it was rough in a cardiovascular way. It is rough out here. I’m the oldest person in this dance ensemble and I felt it yesterday. My body took a very long time to adjust to the number. There were a few moments I had to sit down and take a sip of water, go to the restroom, etc, but when I was done, I was right back in it. During this rehearsal several members of this young group of dancers, (some over a decade younger than me) kept pulling this muscle and that, had to be iced, sit out etc. I mean they were dropping like flies hurting themselves This is where I realized that old maxim is still true- age and experience trumps youth. These dancers while extremely talented, and fast- know little about pacing yourself in a rehearsal. This is why they were injuring themselves over and over on the first day! The rehearsal (like the show itself during performance) is a marathon, NOT a sprint. The mature dancer knows with every run of the choreography, to pace themselves and focus on a different section to perform “full out” at show level each time. It’s different for every performer, but for me towards the end of rehearsal is when I start performing full out show level every run. There is the matter of conditioning, which can only happen by dancing with full performance level each time, but one must remember it is an 8 minute dance number at most and you only do it once in the show. I found that by the end of rehearsal several of these younger dancers were sitting down, and I was still in the number dancing. Slow and steady does indeed win the race of the rehearsal. Pace is everything.
This constant need to kill yourself at the outset of the rehearsal is definitely not the sole property of dancers. As a singer in my youth I would also try to blow the rafters off of a song every go of it during rehearsal. Trying to impress the production team with every turn. It was a wise older character actress in the show that imparted wisdom. Not soon after after I had belted my ninth high A for the day, she said to me, “Honey you’ve got the job already. Save it for the show”. It made me pause and I got the click in my head. Oh yeah. That’s right. I am hired already. I have nothing to prove. Proving yourself is all wrapped up in ego anyway, that is something I’m trying to recognize and correct these days. Standing more full in my personhood and accepting what I am, not trying to put other people and their expectations onto myself. In other words, perform at MY personal best, but not worry about the adjudication of others. One might say that is hard to do when you have a director. I beg to differ. I’ve found a director wants you to make choices, you can only do that if you take ownership of yourself and your abilities and have a comfort about you. The director may hate all of your choices yes, but that is desired over no choice at all. The “blank slate” style of artist is over I think, and isn’t very desirable anyway. All of this leads me to the fact that “giving it all you got” in every time you sing the song in rehearsal is career suicide and a quick way to polyps on your vocal folds. The voice as strong as it is, also is extremely delicate. It must be taken care of with the utmost care and treatment. Hit that A a few times, but indeed save it for the show. It does no one any good (except your understudy) to blow your voice out at the beginning of rehearsal. Keep in it for the long haul and reserve your fuel for show time.