Well, I made it through the month. One month, four trips, four different time zones. Crazy times. It was great, it was okay, it was hectic, it was exhausting. [It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…] And at the beginning of June I am wondering what I am supposed to be doing the rest of the summer. I have the “normal” local shows, Heavy Rebel Weekender at the end of June, vacation to Hawaii in July, the Ohio Burlesque Festival and Isadora Duncan Symposium in August. That should be enough shouldn’t it?
As a burlesque performer, choreographer, creator, sometimes it feels like I am seeking constant approval from others. Am I that needy? Do I have that little faith in what I do? On one hand, no, but on the other hand, as a performance artist it does seem like we need to hear that we are valued and relevant. Performance art is ephemeral. Yes, there is video – but even video does not capture the performance moment, the performance experience (for the performer or the audience) in the same way as the live event. A book, a painting, a sculpture – those items live on. Yes, they may change slightly over the decades, fade, decay. But the object is still there to be observed, reflected upon, thought about. As a performer, a part of me doesn’t care if you “like” what I do. But on the other hand, I want what I do to have value, to be respected. I want to feel that I have worth as an artist and as a performer.
Art is meant to be consumed. Obviously, I can create art for myself. Keep it locked away – hidden. But it is the sharing of your art with others that really gives it meaning and life. Not that people have to gush over the art – but it is disappointing when they don’t even get to experience it. As a performance artist, there are always many triumphs and failures. Unlike someone completing a stagnant work, there are always moments that happen in live theater that may be unexpected that you have to manage. Even though you rehearse and rehearse, things can happen. Mistakes are made. You don’t have a proof or video editor to correct things before final publication.
Sometimes those moments make things better. In London, at one point the audience was applauding so loudly that I couldn’t hear the quiet section of my music and the timing of my ending was slightly off – so I kept moving and had a slightly different ending. Did anyone know? Nope. Did the audience like it better that what I would have done otherwise? Probably. Will I change it and do it that way again in the future? Maybe. It is certainly another option. Other issues are just wrong… In doing a cancan on a roof with uneven Mexican tiles (yes, we did that). I lost my balance twice getting into my heel stretch to do a hopping turn in that position. Part of me wanted to give up and the other part of me just thought – well, I will just treat this like the side show ploy of screwing up a few times to make it look really really hard. Mr. Velvet said being a good performer doesn’t mean you are perfect – because no one ever is – it just means that you do a good job of managing when things aren’t perfect so people don’t notice it. Good point.
People (or maybe it is just me, but I don’t think so) tend to gloss over the triumphs (or fail to recognize them as triumphs) and emphasis the failures (or make them into failures when they actually were not.) People ask me “How was London?” and the first thing I say is – “I fell down a flight of stairs.” This is totally true. But, was that the defining moment of my trip? No. But it is, somehow the most memorable. I also had a great performance, met some amazing people, saw some great acts, had a lovely high tea, and did a lot of fun sightseeing. I would like to go back to London and take Mr. Velvet with me.
Triumphs – great performance – wonderful people – fun shows – cool tourist experiences
Failures – got a migraine and fell down a flight of stairs
Triumphs from my failures – my migraine went away pretty quickly and I fell really well because I only had soreness and bruising – no strains, sprains, or breakage (yay me!)
Triumphs – act went well, I had fun on stage and got lots of compliments from amazing performers
Failures – My corset strings got caught in my boa cat tail and it was that way the remainder of the act, making me feel a bit distracted.
Triumphs from my failures – I didn’t let my distraction show beyond normal cat distraction. I did a little kitty stamping to get myself uncaught from the strings which I think went over well, and I managed the whole thing without any disruption to my act choreography. We will see how it looks when I get video. But no one even mentioned it, so I am not sure how noticeable it was…
Triumphs – My newest act – which has a lot of emotion and is risky, went over really well , particularly despite having to rehearse in teeny hotel rooms with no costume until the day before the show. Plus my puss-tie stayed on during my jump splits
Failures – It could have been better, strong, more rehearsed and what if I can’t do it that well again?
Triumphs from my Failures – Get over myself.
Triumphs – I did one of my newer numbers and it went really well even though it was in a living room surrounded by people in total daylight (just feels different). A burlesque legend at the event cried during my number, blew me kisses and hugged, praised, and petted me and how much she loved my number.
Failures – The act didn’t get accepted into a festival I applied to, therefore, I suck.
Triumphs from my Failures – Get over myself.
The Year so Far:
Triumphs – I have created three great new acts that I really like, I have performed at the Great Burlesque Expo, the Mile High Burlesque Festival, London Burlesque Festival, Hollywood Burlesque Festival and I have been accepted to perform at the Wiggle Room at the Heavy Rebel Weekender and the Ohio Burlesque Festival.
Failures – I didn’t get accepted into all the festivals I applied to and therefore I must suck.
Triumphs from my failure – Get over myself.
It is amazing how one bad thing can wipe out all the amazing accomplishments. Or how we can take a second of imperfection to mentally reduce an experience to a failure. Or maybe it is just me. I don’t know. I don’t think so, though. So, I don’t really know how to fix this other than to encourage myself and all of you to cherish our accomplishments, our successes, our TRIUMPHS more – to see every positive moment as truly that. I think failures are harder, too, because we often feel that they are “unshareable.” (Or maybe that is just me, too.) We can share our triumphs and accomplishments with others, but it is harder (but sometimes more necessary) to share the things that went wrong. Sometimes I get this amazing feeling of “not good enough – why do I even bother?” Which sucks. Because part of me knows I am good. But another part of me thinks I suck and when I feel rejected it makes that part of me very strong. As a teacher I also often feel like I am supposed to mentor others and that it is not okay for me to show signs of weakness. Because how do I make others feel good about themselves when I am having a day when I feel like shit about myself. But if we can’t share the bad moments, we can’t get support, we can’t get reality checks, we can’t effectively move through that moment. And I (and maybe you, too) need to stop taking every negative as an utter and complete failure, as a testament to our lack of value.
So, let’s have more TRIUMPHS and fewer failures. So, TRIUMPH for today: I got this written. FAILURE: None…