Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dancing Juliet

"The preparation that's involved in dancing a dramatic role is know and learn and read the book, and then forgetting about it.  Then learning the steps, and then forgetting about them.  And then finding everything you know of that person in you.  So really, when I'm playing Juliet, I'm playing me, as Juliet."
- Ballerina Alessandra Ferri on dancing "Romeo and Juliet"
These lines from an old ballet video have been floating around in the back of my head for months now.

This, in a nutshell, is my explanation for why I am so devoted to studying and internalizing the dialogue, even though I would have no problem "getting through" teacher training if I didn't look at another page of it between now and April.  Because for me, this is the goal: to learn the story, the words, the steps so well that they become second skin, second nature, and I can forget about them completely.

In my former life as a ballerina (see my last post on Bikram 101 for a little more about that), this was something I knew.  You cannot perform a piece of choreography in a 100% convincing way if you are still just trying to remember the steps.  You have to learn the steps so well that you don't even have to think about them.  You have to dance the choreography as if you're inventing the steps yourself, for the first time - without ever missing a choreographed step.  This is hard to do!!  But when you really know the steps and the story and the reason behind them, inside and out, forwards and backwards... then it just flows.  Then you can inhabit the steps, find yourself inside them, and create something absolutely new.

How can you be yourself as a yoga teacher, if you use the same words as everyone else?  Silly question.  How many ballerinas have danced the same exact steps as Juliet?  And how many of those Juliets have been the same?

In the words of Stephen Sondheim: "Anything you do, let it come from you.  Then it will be new."

I think this concluded the run of dialogue-obsessed posts.  Tomorrow I will start reporting on the weird and wacky world of the international yoga asana competitions!!

*Here is the Romeo and Juliet video that I was remembering.  It's pretty stunning.

**HUGE musical theatre nerd points to anyone who know what musical the Sondheim quote is from.  Not you, Mom.


bikramyogachick said...

This sort of reminds me of something I was thinking the other day about doing the postures. Sometimes I have to consciously engage certain muscles and I'm thinking about the things I need to do for the form of that posture. Other days it just flows and my body does it all on it's own, a beautiful dance, the teachers words, my body responding and moving. Maybe then we are inhabiting the postures just like a dancer would inhabit those steps. :)

thedancingj said...

You mean NOT everything is about delivering the dialogue?!?

That's actually a VERY good thought for this quote. ;-)

Anny said...

Its so true - once you perfect the small movements then you can forget about how they come together and let muscle memory take over :)

Dorothy said...

I like the days when I'm moving kind of intuitively. It's a great way to pick up on bad habits.

Also - That's Sunday in the Park with George. ^___^

thedancingj said...

Anny - "Muscle memory"!! Now THAT is a ballet-teacher term if I've ever heard one. I never say that anymore, but it's such a good one...

Dorothy - NICE, +10 points!! Such a great musical which almost no one has ever heard of! I've been listening to my CD of Bernadette Peters singing Sondheim at Carnegie Hall this week. I love her.

aHappyYogi said...

And when it becomes your own, it becomes beautiful.

ariella said...

good god you're going to be good.

thedancingj said...

Cristina - Beauty! Yes yes. Can't forget about that. <3

Ariella - NOT the point! NOT the point!! But thanks. ;)