Taking Time to Breathe. And Work

After great run-throughs on Friday and Sunday, tonight we took time to breathe a little.  We focused only on movement.  The directive for the evening was to remain calm, to relax, and to simply focus on correctly executing the choreography.  We were able to run all the ensemble numbers, and a few of the smaller numbers as well.

It was, I think, a very productive rehearsal.  One wonderful thing we learned is that all the other work — focus, intent, character, quality of action — has really paid off.  While we were concentrating only on movement, the effects of all that other work remained clearly evident throughout the evening.  And that’s a very good thing.

I believe that performances are always better when they are relaxed.  But that relaxation has to be earned, and it can be extremely hard-won.  There are long and sometimes frustrating hours of learning music, lines, lyrics, blocking, and choreography.  And there are hours of drilling material and working to ensure that everyone is performing at the same level. Then there are the agonizing fits and starts as you not only become trusting of your cast mates and their abilities, but you realize you must become impeccably trustworthy yourself.  

It’s hard work. But it’s worth it.  Because, with that hard work in your back pocket, you can begin to relax, to enjoy the performance, and to make amazing new discoveries.  As long as the initial work remains in full effect, this trusting, relaxed-but-focused performance style is sure to lead the ensemble toward better… best… brilliant performances.

It is rare to find this sort of informed relaxation before a production has opened.  Sometimes you never find it.  But we are in very good shape and I felt that it would be a good exercise. So tonight we relaxed, come hell or high water.  It was fun, it was focused, and it was ever so promising.

More than anything else, I enjoyed the opportunity to just talk about each number.  Sure there were some technical issues to iron out, and some errors which still need correcting.  But we were able to perform each number and then just stop and talk about it.  We laughed. We joked. And we were all intently serious about finding ways to make every moment of our time on stage more exciting, more vibrant, more informed, and more inspired.

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