A performance follows a literary plot structure with an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.
The exposition is hearing the music for the first time and learning the chorography. This includes hours spend in the studio rehearsing and just imaging yourself on stage under the lights. For me this is the most exciting part. It’s like when a potter is given clay and they can begin molding it as their expression. As a dancer you are given chorography, which is just simple steps. Then it is up to you to make it your own by adding emotion, texture, style, and improvisation.
The rising action is tech week. This is when everything comes together. The lights are arranged. The spacing is configured. The music is projected. The costumes are fitted. The scene is set. Everything you have been imagining is now becoming a reality.
The climax is the performance. This is what everyone has been working up to. The stage is set and the audience is ready to see what all your hard work has turned into. Although some dancers might feel pressure on performance nights, I just feel bliss. I feel joy dancing so I know that will show on stage. When I step into the light my body takes over, leaving my motions instinctual and allowing me to enjoy the moment. Messing up on stage is only a problem if you make it a problem. So rather than being nervous about that or freaking out when I do mess up, I pretend its an opportunity for me to think on my toes, improvising smoothly. The performance for me is a joy because I get to share what I love with others.
The falling action is back stage after a performance. This is when its time to take the final pictures with friends and pack up the dressing rooms. Costumes get hung back on the hanger and stage makeup is whipped off your face. This is really a time to unwind and reflect on how you personally feel about how the performance went, whether you were satisfied with your performance or you think you could have done better. You remember your favorite parts and cringe at those close calls. But most of all it’s a time to smile because you just showed your heart on stage.
The resolution is talking with dancers, family, and friends about the performance. This is when you get to hear everyone’s opinion on the performance. Its gratifying to find out which performances were people’s favorites and which ones they thought were a little strange.
All of this creates the story of a performance that I get to be a character in. I get to be an integral part in the progression of this story. I get to make this story my mini biography.