And The Snow Queen goeth away.

I have now recovered from the madness that was The Snow Queen.  Mostly.  It was 9 days ago.  Only 9 days ago?  Feels like a lifetime.  Sorry I didn’t blog about it right away.  I tried, but I didn’t have perspective.   I couldn’t put the words together.  Everything was a jumble.  It was too close.  I feel better now, although I still haven’t been able to look at the videos.  Photos, yes.  Videos, TOO SOON!  I hope I feel brave enough tomorrow.  For now, each day has been an effort to refind my feet.

It’s strange to go full tilt for 8 weeks and then suddenly have no specific deadlines.  No one calling.  No one emailing.  No one harassing.  Yes, there are a few businessy things to do, but it’s not pressing.  I should be relaxing.  But I feel oddly… empty.  8 solid weeks of planning, ordering, shopping, selling, practising, rehearsing, meeting, putting out fires, soothing, thanking, praying, performing… then silence.  It’s weird.  Especially now that it’s the holidays and people aren’t just not calling.  They’re actually gone.  Take this analogy:

Imagine you are on top of a ski slope, the tips of your skis pointing out over the hill.  You can’t see over your skis because the vertical drop is too sheer. All you can see is the bright blue sky. All you can hear is your own breathing and your blood pulsing through your ears.  And then, you tilt forward slightly and your skis tip down over the crest.  And you begin the mad descent.  At first it’s fine.  Lots of energy.  Good technique.  Familiar feeling.  All in control.  But then you hit an icy patch and your right ski skids out from beneath you slightly.  No problem.  Back in control.  Then an surprise mogul flings your knees out of alignment and jars your spine.  That was ok.  But there’s another one.  And another.  Then there are other people on the hill.  Some people trying to ride the same path as you.  Some are showing you the best line.  Some are getting in the way.  Some are just standing on the side yelling.  Some are yelling encouragement.  Others are telling you you’re gonna die.  Oddly, some are wearing ballet shoes… You keep flying faster and faster.  Arms and legs flailing wildly, you manage to stay upright, only just.  Your body and mind are acting instinctively to keep you alive.  Your reasoning brain checked out ages ago- probably on the ride up in the chairlift.  You continue to careen down the slope.  Your knees bobbing, your elbows akimbo, your teeth juddering, the world vibrating.  Suddenly, you hurl over an unexpected ski jump, into the air and… nothingness.  You expect to smuck your face onto the snow and give the old frontal lobes a scrub.  Instead?  Just.  Nothingness.  A white floating void.  Where nothing makes sense.  Where senses make nothing.  Is this death?  Maybe.  But the hangover I had from drinking a half a bottle of whisky at the after-party reminds me that I am indeed still alive.

So how was the show, Nicole?  Awesome.  Wonderful.  Amazing.  Two shows and each was incredible in it’s own way.  Thursday night, because the mood was dark and magical:  the audience was welcomed into a dream world covered in sparkling lights.  They could only see the suggestion of the shapes of flowers, snow, fall leaves and spring grass.  Truly a fairytale land.

Saturday afternoon, was more visual- it was late in the day and there was therefore much more light than that of the Thursday show.  However, it was late enough that the sun hung low on the horizon and cast the most amazing orange and pink streaks around the Palace Church.  So although the show was clearer and less “mysterious”, the colours were brighter, and the images were sharper.  The story felt more human, more real, as we told it.

Yes, both shows were fantastic for different reasons, but of course there are two sides to the coin.  As a performer I was thrilled.  The music was spectacular.  The set was magical.  The dance was phenomenal.  The cast literally made me weep with their talent.  The crew humbled me with their dedication.  I sang better than I have ever sung before.  And the audience was happy.

But I was also directing.  And as a director, there were definitely some timing, some movement, some expressive details that I would want to fix for the next time.  And I am determined that there will be a next time.  This whole OperaDans thing is brand new.  This is only our second show.  But I’m planning the third one for July 2010.  And I’m going to bust my butt to get The Snow Queen touring.  Where?  Anywhere that will have us.

But for now, 9 days later, as I take time reflect in my white void of nothingness (and slowly recover from a soul-sucking virus), I have come to realise a few things.  Let’s see if I can list one for each day since the show:

1) I can take a lot more stress than I thought I could.
2) I like managing people more than I thought I would.
3) People will respond to hard words and they will also respond to patience and love.  I can use the former but I much prefer the latter.
4) The business side is also part of the creative process.  Different but equal.  And I need to be comfortable with both.
5) The audience really doesn’t mind if a few things go wrong.
6) Dancers are the worst critics (musicians are cuddly Care Bears in comparison) and they (the dancer critics) can bite me.
7) Fake grass is noisier than it looks.
8 ) Our first show, Sweet Solitude, was a walk in the park compared with The Snow Queen.*
9)  Singing is my refuge.  I used to really get anxious about singing: I had to be perfect all the time, I had to be “right” all the time.  All this ridiculous self-inflicted pressure.  But when I had a million and one other things to think about in putting this show together, suddenly singing became the easiest, safest part.**

Whew.  I think that’s it.  There will be videos soon.  Give me a few more days of therapy.  For now, there are a million photos on Facebook.  “Friend” me if you haven’t already.  And hey, become a fan of OperaDans.  It will maketh me happyeth.

*I expect the next show to be even bigger.  Arabic music and dance.  And certainly more than TWO dates.  Bring it.
**This is a huge one for me.  God, I’m so thankful for this lesson.  I think I might almost be over myself.  Almost.

A Very Important Message From

Dec 23 is dumb and so are those McQueen shoes