january blooms

So last weekend was Dance Ontario's big DanceWeekend and I was invited to perform that piece that broke my arm last year (during tech rehearsal for DanceWeekend!). "The speed of our vertigoes" caused great vertigo indeed, over the last year. I performed the work recklessly three days after my cast was removed, then the following week in Germany and two weeks after that in Guelph (on a carpeted floor in an art gallery). My partner, Dennes, went through many levels of distress. Then it was my turn as December 2007 approached and I needed to start rehearsing the work again. My 'stage fright' or nerves have gotten worse and worse as the years go by and now faced with a solo performance on the biggest stage for contemporary dance in Toronto, with a piece that makes me feel immensely vulnerable in its most calm situations, and a history of breaking my arm while dancing it.

The Premiere Dance Theatre stage is fascinating. It looks huge from the house, but tiny when you're upon it. It's ceiling seems to go on forever through a maze of ropes and beams and bars and cross overs and dust. It is a tremendous black cavern when you work with a darkened backdrop. The black velvet absorbs everything so that there is just little old naked you left there.

Larry, the former firefighter now tech at PDT who witnessed my accident last year, opened the curtain to let Samara through the curtain to announce my performance. I stood on my mark, a piece of purple tape marking the space between the callouses on my big toes. Larry dropped the curtain and subtly pumped his right arm at me. The curtains opened. I was immersed in blackness, one long tunnel of light. I could see the footlights of the aisles, but nothing else in the house. The blackness, like when you are trying to see at night, began to reveal its different depths. My first cross to upstage left, the music begins, it jumps a little, the sound cue misses all subtlety, but it's ok. The stage is opening up and is no longer a stage. January blooms a big black velvet flower that buoys me in sparks for the next 15 minutes. I do not fall. I do not even come close. I take two quick bows and let myself hear the cheers from the balcony.

I go to the dressing room and I cry, just a little tiny bit. I have unspooked the vertigo. I take a very hot shower pack up my things and meet Dennes in the lobby. We decide this piece is retiring from the repertoire for a little while so it can take on a new significance that is not related to the breaking of bones or anxiety levels.

We have a drink and some nachos, tradition after Harbourfront Centre performances, at the Boathouse, look at the cold, blowing lake and let it evaporate into history.

Unless, of course, someone offers me a lovely contract to perform it again. No reasonable offer turned down...


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