I have two performances this weekend. They aren't big ones, by any means. I will dance for 10 or 11 minutes a night in a kind of gala show. That's it. But. My heart is not in it. Not for a minute. I do not want to dance. I. Do. Not. Want. To. Dance.
I feel resentful. There, I've said it. I do not feel generous with my body or self. I feel resentful. I do not want to go backstage into crammed, dusty, dirty areas. I do not want to use shared mirrors in bad light at inaccessible tables. Why can't things be clean and a little comfortable? It feels like the artists are the last priority and the least respected. I am not feeling the energy, so I do not want to offer myself to you tonight. I know you, the audience, have given money, time, effort and spirit to be here. I appreciate that, but I want to curl up tonight and protect myself. I want to lie under hot blankets and watch television. I cannot be open and welcoming. And all of that is very hard to admit.
Performing is never easy; doing it when you do not want to is the hardest part of the job. I know that I am not the only one in this situation; there are gazillions of Broadway performers who do the same show night after night after night for years. There have to be times when they do not want to do it. Neither I nor they can let this attitude show. That's when mistakes or, worse, injuries happen. At a minimum, you just look like you are literally going through the motions.
I rarely feel like this. But when I do, I have some routines to get myself to a place where I create a performance that works -- even if it is not a show where I feel like I am on fire. I begin by eating and drinking as much as I can. I like to drink almond milk and followed by some dark chocolate. My favourite granola with blueberry kefir is next. Then, a little pu-erh tea and some coconut water. Hydration is key. Then, I get into it with my body. As I sit down to my gyrokinesis DVD (transferred over to my phone), I try not to be impatient. I wait. And I wait. Eventually, my body begins to feel OK; I take pleasure in the sensation of my muscles responding. A sense of hopefulness rises. I put on some make up on; stretch again/more; put on my costume and wait. Finally, I lift my headphones only when I am being called to places.
I'm never ready at these times, so I am deeply scared. But it's like being on a rollercoaster; there's nothing you can do to stop it. You have to start, and once started you have to finish; anything short of that means disaster has happened. You have to finish.
I take a deep breath, push onto stage, feel the coldness in my clammy hands, take my place, and wait for music and lights.