I did something yesterday that I have not done in a long time, eight years to be exact. I watched my choreography being performed. I have been performing in my own work since I graduated from undergraduate school in 2003. Last night, that changed. I sat in the audience while three of my beautiful dancers performed my latest work.
I have been sitting with the idea of no longer performing my own work for a while now. I have been finding it harder and harder to be in my own work and I have been feeling less and less fulfilled by performing in it. The pull to focus solely on choreographing has been strengthening, but it was not until this month that the opportunity to remove myself from my work arose. And well, I took it, partially because I didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter, and partially because I felt that the time had finally, and officially come.
Last night marked the end of an era for me. I had thought that I would have a more official ending, a grand finale of sorts, an end that I had meticulously planned out. Instead I found myself unexpectedly sitting in the audience with butterflies in my stomach and pre-performance jitters. As the lights dimmed I watched the silhouettes of my dancers walk on stage in the blackout. I felt myself sit up as straight as possible while the music and lights began to fade up. I felt out of place applauding instead of receiving the applause at the end. I am still grappling with all of the emotions that have been coming up. My identity is shifting from that of dancer to that of choreographer. What I share with the world and how I share that is about to change. I am letting go of one thing so that I may more fully embrace another. The thing I am letting go of is a very large part of who I am and who I have been for a long time. I am beginning to feel the enormity, the loss, of letting something go. And yet, it felt very right for me to be in the audience watching my work instead of on stage performing it last night.
There are going to be changes in the dance company, changes that I can facilitate and hold if I am only wearing one hat. The multiple roles of choreographer, dancer, and administrator have been a juggling act for the past year. I do not think I have fully excelled at any of my roles because, quite simply, it has been too much. While I am already feeling the longing to get back on stage I think my time may have truly come…and gone, at least as far as my own work is concerned. I finally have a strong group of dancers that I whole-heartedly trust with my work. It is time to let them bring my babies to life, on their own. It is time that I dedicate myself 100% to helping them make my work the best it can be. I write this with a heavy feeling in my heart and tears coming to my eyes. Change is hard…and this change is huge.
“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” ~Anatole France