Large Dance Rehearsals: Lessons Learned

I came home full of energy from the second day of gym rehearsals and decided to write all about it. As soon as I sat down, however, my body and brain decided they have had quite enough for today, so now I’m staring blankly at the screen while propping my head up with my water bottle. I’m still going to write it all down.

First and foremost, this is my fist time participating in a dance performance on this scale. I find literally everything that goes into it fascinating and amazing and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. A rehearsal with around 200-300 people is scarily impressive, even if the people involved are not professional dancers at all. Yesterday and today, we learned a mini-choreography for the final applause, ran through the entire piece three times and figured out the final details. It’s about time: The shows are in less than two weeks. Next Friday will be the final studio rehearsal, Wednesday after that, the stage rehearsal and on Thursday, the dress rehearsal. Then, we dance, once on Friday and two times on Saturday.

The great thing about our gym rehearsal marathon isn’t just that we can have the same amount of space as we will on stage. It is, at least for me, the opportunity to notice pitfalls in your preparation (usually by falling into them) so that you can avoid them when it’s show time. Now, I’m lazy, so I’m going to make a listicle out of these.

Here we go:

Lessons Learned from the Gym Rehearsals

1. If one group of dancers has glitter on their costumes, all groups of dances have glitter on their costumes. And feet. And faces.

I have noticed the glitter before and now we finally know who we owe it to. It is, quite appropriately, the Fairy Dust group that has golden glitter all over their tulle skirts and tutus. I am amazed there is anything left on their costumes at all, since they managed to cover the entirety of the almost 1000 square meters of gym with it. Twice.

2. If you are only a part of one dance, you will have to wait – a lot.

There is a very clear benefit to this: you get to watch everyone else dance. I have finally seen the second act in its entirety now, and I have to say I’m impressed. What I didn’t know is that the teachers dance as well, all in one group. Amazing human beings that they are, they didn’t base their piece on dancing skills but on theatrics and humour so as to not to steal the show from their charges. It is hilarious to watch, not least because they are all dressed as vegetables. (It all makes sense in the context of the piece, I swear…)

3. While you wait, it is advisable not to sit on your butt or stand around gawking at the fabulous king other dancers all the time.

The basic principle of «warm up or die, scrub» is still valid. We were rather pleased with ourselves after the first run today. Yesterday, we screwed up many things, some collectively, others individually. Today, we were spot on with the choreography. Or so we thought, until Friday’s teacher described our performance as lackluster and uncertain. So yeah. Warm up.

4. While you wait, it is also advisable to put food and water in your face hole at regular intervals.

I did that, or thought I did. But when I got home on Saturday, I was so hungry I thought I was going to faint. And today netted me some glorious cramps, probably due to slight dehydration. I get cramps very easily, the slightest oversight on my part can end in lots of pain. Which brings us to the next lesson…

5. I can and will finish the dance even with an excruciating cramp in both of my triceps brachii.

This one’s my old nemesis. Fortunately, the only part where the triceps has to do anything of notice is during the shoulder stand, where we use our arms flat against the floor to stabilise the position. It is very close to the end, so I didn’t have to dance with the bilateral agony for long, but I did it without screaming so that’s a plus. Getting this particular cramp during the show was one of my fears. Now I can rest easy knowing that the audience will never know. Except for the SO, to whom I am sure to complain afterwards.

Which lessons did you learn during your rehearsals and recitals?

PS: We have the. drabbest. costumes. in the entire show. I suppose if you want sparkles, big skirts or elaborate dresses, you should dance literally anything but modern. I have suggested to my fellow dancers that this is because we shine through our dancing and fancy clothes would only distract from our mastery. We had a good laugh at that.

I rather like it, but it’s not what you would call glamorous. (The socks are there to contain the glitter invasion and do not join me on the stage.)

2 thoughts on “Large Dance Rehearsals: Lessons Learned

  1. I’m entirely with you on the staying warm thing and eating! It makes the day manageable and keeps you at the top of your game. I usually don’t spend that much time watching other numbers- I like to concentrate on running my own pieces and focusing on specific spots that still have any friction to them. I would absolutely love to see the vegetable number!!! Those “random” but funny numbers always turn out so well 🙂 I did a series on ballet, and this is my own post on dress rehearsals: Fantastic post!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks! I enjoyed reading your ballet series a lot. I only have one piece this time, so it’s easy to spare some time to watch. Not being able to see the whole thing is my greatest regret!

    Liked by 1 person

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