Bad dress rehearsal, good show

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.



Tribal Illumination, July 19-20 2014 in Portland, Maine

Registration is OPEN for the Tribal Illumination weekend in Portland, Maine!

Maine is beautiful in July, and we’ll be dancing all weekend at the beautiful new location of Bright Star World Dance in Portland’s historic West End neighborhood.  We’re planning eight hours of instruction, plus a hafla in the studio, and I can’t wait to see all of my New England dancers again!

Click here to register for the whole weekend.  One-day passes will be opening up soon, assuming the weekend doesn’t sell out first.

Want to know what you’ll be getting yourself into?  Have a look.

Saturday, July 19, 11am – 1pm
Tribal Foundations for Clean Lines
Immerse yourself in the powerful-yet-fluid aesthetic of American Tribal Style® bellydance. We’ll begin with a thorough warm-up, and then dig deeply into applications of the ATS® posture and vocabulary that can be applied to any style of bellydance. Learn how to create fluid shapes rooted in vibrant stillness, and use your body and breath to project joy, gratitude, and an open, regal presence. Open to all levels of bellydancers, of any style, looking to refine posture and add strength, grace, and precision. Advanced ATS dancers will get a lot out of this workshop as well!

Saturday, July 19, 2-4pm
Tribal-Style Turns & Spins
The grounded, smooth aesthetic of ATS-style spins and turns can lend a regal air to your performance, no matter what style you call your own. Learn the subtle tricks in your feet, hips, and torso that will allow you to be solid in your footing, and create a crisp and sure landing in slow turning moves. Then, we’ll take these concepts and apply them to faster turns, including the always challenging calibrated spin! Dancers of all levels & styles are welcome.

Sunday, July 20, 11am-1pm
Musicality for ATS®
The ATS vocabulary and formations provide endless variety to meaningfully interpret your music. Learn how to listen for shapes in the music and create beautiful, elegant visuals that work musically with any song style in our repertoire. Developing your ATS musicality will not only enrich the audience’s experience, but will also result in you having much more fun dancing!
Please know the basics of the ATS level 1 vocabulary, including simple trio and quartet formations.

Sunday, July 20, 2-4pm
Dueling Duets Done Well
The elusive dueling duet: an audience favorite that is easy to learn, but challenging to master. Learn best practices to “duel” beautifully and musically, using this fun formation to keep the audience entranced! We’ll also cover simple variations to create beautiful and unique shapes, as well as the newest variations to come out of the FCBD® studio, not available on any DVD!
Please know the basics of the ATS level 1 vocabulary, including simple duet and quartet formations.

Come on out for a fun weekend not to be missed.  Portland is only two hours’ drive from the Boston area, and is served by Concord Trailways buslines, Amtrak, and an international airport.  Hotels abound, and there are lots of AirBnB options for lodging.  Can’t wait to see you all!  Register today.