We are halfway through our performances of Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake. Presenting this iconic ballet is a first for Joffrey and for many of us dancers. It's as challenging as it is rewarding, and I find myself tempted to try to escape my burning feet and aching back by thinking forward to when it's all over. But instead, I back up, take one act at a time, and focus on finding all of the moments to enjoy - all of the experiences that make the work worth it. Here's a list!
1. Music, music, music! Once, years ago when I was sick, I lay in bed and listened to Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake as I drifted in and out of sleep. I swear, it cured me!
2. Advil, Advil, Tiger Balm! I usually try to avoid taking drugs for ordinary aches and pains. But when I am trying to jam my swollen feet into my pointe shoes for the third time that day, I suddenly remember that Advil exists, and it is very exciting indeed!
3. The pretty velvet ribbons we get to wear around our wrists and necks as we step into a famous Degas painting in Wheeldon's first act.
4. Feeling a bead of sweat slowly make its way from my temple to my eyelashes as I stand perfectly still on the side of the stage, together with every other woman in the white act. Solidarity!
5. Seeing the men in their paste-on mustaches. They look so silly up close!
6. Getting pretty with false eyelashes before a show and peeling them off afterwards. Best feeling!
7. Watching with bated breath as our Odiles tackle the impossibly challenging third act. Such determination is electrifying to behold, especially up close!
8. Every so often a bead or jewel falls off of a costume mid-variation. Eyes pointedly communicate, whispered alarms discreetly inform, and smiles secretly congratulate the lady or gent who manages to gracefully heel-brush the slipping hazard into the wings.
9. Our lovely audience that fills the auditorium with applause when the curtain comes up for bows...and yes, being done...
10. Day-after, puffy-eyed, we-deserve-it brunch!!!
Photos of sugar and hands taken by Alberto.