There is an old theatre superstition that a bad dress rehearsal will lead to a great show. And sometimes… sometimes it’s really true. Here’s a story.
A few weeks ago, I returned to Maine to reconnect with the studio I co-founded, Bright Star World Dance, and teach and perform in conjunction with the studio’s five-year anniversary show.
Diana Saylor drove up from Connecticut to perform with me. I love dancing with Diana — we hear the same things in the music, and I feel a high degree of calm, mutual trust when we dance together. Sometimes you find dance partners that just click, and Diana is one of those people for me. We discussed the set and costuming via e-mail ahead of time, prepared to just show up and improvise together.
When we finally saw each other on Friday night, we danced the set before the show. Our minds were in other places, however, and we weren’t connected with each other, we weren’t connected with the music, and I think I even screwed up a couple of steps.
Our run-through was absolutely terrible. It was SO bad. And of course the other performers were watching our rehearsal; our awful mistakes were on vivid display.
I was thinking: Diana came all this way and I’m a terrible dance partner! I feel so disappointing! I wanted to run it again several more times, until it felt easy and natural.
But she said no. “We’ll just solidify all of those mistakes. Bad dress rehearsal, good show.”
We both finished our costume and makeup, and mentally prepared. We did our gratitude meditation in the little curtained-off backstage area, Diana’s bracelets clinking quietly. I breathed.
I took another deep breath as we walked through the audience to enter. I let go of everything else in my head, and turned my attention to the muscles in my mid-back allowing my arms to move.
And then suddenly, everything was all right: I could feel connected again, to the music, to my dance partner, to my body, to the audience. I stopped thinking so hard — I think we both did — and just focused on feeling connected, letting the dance play itself out. And it was good, really good.
Bad dress rehearsal, good show.