Recently I finished performing with English National Ballet in a triple bill called “Lest We Forget” about life during the First World War.
I had the opportunity to learn and perform “No Man’s Land” and “Dust” which for me are at opposite sides of the dance spectrum. Both so beautiful in such different ways. “No Man’s Land” a gorgeous neoclassical piece about relationships and life during the War, “Dust” a hypnotising contemporary piece about those who left to the war and those (women)who stayed.
For me, the choreography of “No Man’s Land” was more natural and easier to use to portray feelings and emotions. It was in my comfort zone, and I was so happy to be dancing it. We were playing ‘Canaries’, the women who built bombs, having their hands turned yellow because of the toxins of the explosives. Since the set and costumes were quite literal, feeling like you were in the actual factory came quite easily. Scarlett did a brilliant job in portraying the different relationships the War created with his beautiful pas de deuxs. Some scenarios he created were a death from heartbreak, a soldier returning with PTSD, and a woman learning her partner hadn’t made it back, all of them leaving you feeling like you were there and keeping your emotions running high!!!
“Dust” was a complete learning experience for me. I had never learned a piece of dance that didn’t have counts, just sounds to describe movement, so that was the first of many lessons it taught me. This piece was straight out of my comfort zone, so the rehearsal process was a forever internal battle with my strengths and weaknesses.
I’m being honest about this because I feel like as dancers, and as people, we don’t tend to accept our weaknesses and tend to give up the second things don’t go our way; but this time I decided to be disciplined and just do my job to the best of my ability and not listen to my inner voice telling me that I wasn’t good enough and that I couldn’t possibly ever move like I was being asked to. I came to the studio every day and even though I just wanted to sit in the corner and wallow in self-pity, I would just keep trying even though I was getting told no, I would just ask for help, and work on it to make sure every time I did it, it felt better and stronger than before.
By the time casting was coming up I got called by the ballet staff, “I’m going to be taken out, I’m not good enough” I thought, but no, they were giving me the opportunity to perform it on the later shows, which meant I had more time to rehearse and get stronger. I was so grateful for the opportunity, because I was meant to have one performance, but after the show, I was given more chances to perform it. That meant I had done it, I had overcome my insecurities, performed the piece, given it my all and it had worked!
In the end, I learned that stepping outside your comfort zone can be scary, but you can achieve amazing things if you just trust the process and grow from the struggle. Im so grateful to everyone who helped me get to where I needed to be in order to perform, couldn’t have done it without them!
Until next time,