It has been a long hiatus since the arts festival, and a lot has been happening for me in my final year at NAFA Dance. Oddly enough, the theme of my last post in June resonates a lot right now. We've just struggled through another production week of NAFA's annual Third Space show at the dan:s festival at the Esplanade Recital Studio. I say struggled because for us student performers and crew, it is a mad battle against the fatigue of the theatre schedule on top of our usual coursework and the accumulation of injuries and stress as we wind up our academic semester.
Dancing is indeed painful. Injuries are something that I am becoming used to as part of dancing life, with ice packs and anti-inflammatories as my best friends. What is more difficult is facing fellow cast members who may not care or work as much as you do, critics (professional and non-professional) who are unenthused about your work, audiences who sit stonily and reject every ounce of heart that you open to them. And toughest of all, your own expectations of yourself that can be the hardest to meet. Especially when working in the "contemporary asian" genre these last few years, I have encountered all of these a lot. Very often I have wondered what I am dancing for. It's horribly depressing. We had one of those stony audiences tonight, on the closing night of our show.
The only answer I have found is that I must be dancing for me. First and foremost I have to find something that I really connect with and believe in with the work, despite all doubts that others may have about it. It is my own story to discover and share. Then I have to go out on the shaky limb where I simply trust that in this conviction, I will be able to touch somebody, somewhere, out there.
I am coming to treasure a piece of advice I got from Ms Robin Payne, a director and former theatre lecturer at NAFA: that as a responsible performer, I need to believe that every work that I am currently involved in is perfect. I was confused to hear this at first. But this has become more and more useful to me in the last few months. As a performer I am responsible for making the work real. It is in my belief to bring it to fruition. I may have my own doubts or hear more from others, but when I come to the rehearsal studio and the stage I need to put those aside and surrender to the world in the work. Any doubts and fears I carry, anything less than full conviction will only sabotage the performance.
So pushing aside the boundaries in Raka Maitra's Boundaries...Dreams...Beyond this weekend, I did feel rewarded. It started to make sense in my own life and my own story what it means to face the many rules and OB markers that rule our lives, and to find courage to make a lonely journey and cross them into uncharted territory where our lives are truly our own.