Monday, January 26, 2015

Le Grand Continental: Day 2 Performances

No rain. A bit of sun even. And warm. What a difference a day makes. Sylvain seemed a bit disappointed that the inclement weather hadn't continued; he says it makes the dance really beautiful. However, I have to say I much preferred staying dry yesterday--or at least finishing both dances dripping only with sweat.

I also didn't mind the later call time. Gathering in the green room (which was a lot roomier minus all of our rain gear) at noon, we checked in with each other about our evenings--and our bodies. A bit of stiffness and soreness here and there, but mostly people seemed ready and eager for round two. Before that, however, Sylvain had us gather outside to practice the opening, as he said the day before we were late with our counts on the bit where the two lines rush towards each other in the centre of the square. The few folks who had turned up early to watch must have been a bit confused when the music cut out abruptly at the beginning of "Gogoprado" and we all trudged back inside.

As for the 1 pm performance itself, Sylvain said afterwards it was our best yet, especially in terms of keeping our lines. Funnily enough, I felt I had turned in my own worst performance, with a myriad of small, stupid mistakes--most egregiously in "India" when I forgot to do the second of the two waltz turns when the Group A and B lines merge. It also seemed like the group's overall energy was lower; for one thing, we didn't make as much noise as usual. As for the audience, I tried to whip up a bit of fervour by yelling at them to make some of their own noise at the start of "Cumbia." I got a few half-hearted whoops and claps, but they tapered off pretty quickly. As Jane Heyman said to me after the show, it's not that people weren't enjoying themselves; rather, they were just behaving like the typical Vancouver audience. Still, I now get how this can be definite energy suck for a performer and I've made a note to myself to be more boisterous from now on if I'm watching something that I really like.

A bit despondent with myself over my mistakes, I went for a long walk between shows, which I mostly spent going over the choreography in my head. There was a brief panic attack when I blanked on a whole section of "Champagne," but by the time I checked in for our 3 pm call I had resolved to just enjoy myself and give it my all for this last show. That seemed to be the general consensus with everyone else as, gathering in small groups to watch the crowds assemble and the sun peak through the clouds, we told ourselves to have fun--and, most importantly, to let the audience know it.

Which we did. As soon as the wave sounds started in the intro section I was in a calm place. And by the time we got to "Gogoprado," I knew this was going to be my best run. Even the fact that my pants kept falling down couldn't deter my enthusiasm. Checking in with friends in the audience afterward, they all had massive praise, which was a great high on which to end. PuSh Festival Artistic and Executive Director Norman Armour jokingly asked for my autograph, which I gladly wrote on his hand; then he said that the Festival was so pleased with how the whole Le Grand Continental experience had unfolded that there were very tentative plans afoot to possibly bring an even bigger and better version back next year. If so, I'm there in a heartbeat.

Partly that's because this experience has been about making a connection with a wonderful group of people I otherwise would never have gotten to know. And while, over the past 10 weeks, we've mostly been focused on learning the choreography, at last night's after party (generously organized by Mark and Diane) there was a chance to have some proper conversations with my fellow dancers. Speaking with Marion in my rusty French, I learned that she hailed from Sherbrooke, and so I was able to tell her that I lived there when I was six and seven. Eewa showed me her wounds from her job as a cook for the Glowbal restaurant chain. And Brenda, who is from Mexico City and completing a doctorate in urban planning from Amsterdam, talked to me about her fascinating research on housing in Nanjing, China. I talked with Lara about how hard it still is to make a living as a working dancer in Vancouver, and with Caroline about the merits of doing an MFA.

And, of course, we danced. It's funny, I've always been an incredibly self-conscious social dancer, even in clubs. But something about participating in LGC has loosened me up--and I'm not just talking about my hips. Last night, as Ling spun classic 80s tunes on her iPod, you couldn't hold me back, and I'm so grateful to Sylvain for inspiring us keep dancing together as a group.

Stay tuned.


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