Several months ago, at the end of April, when Spring was just starting to really assert itself (well, I have to admit that we were a little further along over here in Monaco!) Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo had just finished a run of five shows of a mixed program of three completely new ballets. These ballets had been created on us, and it was the very first time that anyone in the world had seen them. It’s quite a remarkable thing when you think about it, to be part of something new and exciting, not knowing at all what you will be wearing, or even what music you will be dancing to or what kind of steps you’ll be doing at the moment when you see your name on that rehearsal schedule to work with someone you probably have never had the chance to work with before. However for the moment, that’s all that I will say on the subject of dancing something totally new, because my thoughts are concentrated on one image that I associated with our last day at the Grimaldi Forum (our theatre here in Monaco) in April.
This is an image that does not necessarily have anything to do with that particular program, but it is something that happens frequently in the life of a performer of any kind. After the last show, after all was said and done, pictures taken, thank yous made, and make up put away, I was walking out of our dressing room (four levels below the ocean actually!) I noticed the garbage can in the corner. It was filled to the point of almost overflowing; with ballet shoes. Simple flesh coloured pieces of canvas, but that represent so much. They are perhaps the most important tools of our craft, they cover our feet, allowing us to jump and turn without the friction of bare skin on the floor, while still giving the illusion from the audience that our feet are as plain as the day we were born.
Yet there they were, discarded into the bin and left behind, as were our thoughts of the ballets we had just performed. They were new, and not actually part of the current repertoire, so who knows; maybe one of them will return again, and maybe not. It is quite possible that all the work that we did from January to April has faded into the past, it was well used and had served it’s purpose to allow us to reach the point of standing on that stage and presenting something new and exciting to the world. We have moved on to other ballets, both new and familiar, and all we take with us are the memories, or the things we learned about our dancing and ourselves, or maybe even an injury or two.
This process happens rather frequently for not just dancers, but for performers in general. We work and work and work towards a particular project, and in the end get a very disproportionate amount of time to share it with the world compared with the amount of rehearsal and effort that was put in, both inside and outside of the studio. Yet that’s why we do what we do, for that magic moment when the house lights are dim, and the audience is hushed, watching the curtain rise. That short moment of silence before the music begins holds nothing but potential and expectation, both from the audience: What are we about to see?, and from the dancers: I wonder how this is all going to go…. And with any luck, the end result is something that all involved can be content with. We live in this fashion, from magic moment to magic moment; leaving one ballet behind and moving onto the next. Though with any luck, we will take with us that which we have learned and use it the next time we grace that stage. Who knows, we may just surprise ourselves.