Sometimes a single moment onstage lasts longer than every hour of rehearsal leading up to that moment combined. Despite the irony of its extremely fast-paced nature, Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux gave me one of those moments this past weekend, where the whole room seemed to slow down to a halt. It’s such a strange moment of meta, when you are performing and you’re actually able to perceive your own performance as its happening. A moment like this one presents the unusual opportunity to monitor your own dancing- in a way. But instead of scanning the crowd, counting my steps, or wishing I’d used just one more spritz of hairspray in my french twist, this time warping moment solicited something far more simple: my own realization of the happiness it was bringing me.
Vaganova-trained from the relatively ripe age of 11, I’ve always considered the Balanchine style to be just a tad bit…inferior. The splayed fingers, over crossed tendus and non-existent first position port de bras comprise a foreign technique that to me once seemed brash, hurried, and dare I say slightly unrefined. Only now, after submerging myself in the romanticism of a Balanchine pas de deux, do I finally understand what it all means. In Tchai Pas, there is no time to worry about your tricks. No time to contemplate what you could be doing better, or how to convey a certain emotion. The music plays, the dance begins, and it all sort of just happens. Naturally. There is a sublime joy that comes with such freedom of movement, a bliss that the great Balanchine bestowed to his dancers, and that, proven by my recent cognizance, continues to circulate throughout the dance community to this day. There’s no worrying about making that perfect position before hitting the next, because it all sort of just bleeds together seemlessly into this paradoxic lyrical garden filled with pronounced motions. It’s not about perfection, it’s about interpreting music into emotion. And that, my friends, feels incredible.
To give you some perspective, I think the feeling is best described by one of Mr. B’s most famous quotes, “Dancing is music made visible.” Even if it wasn’t visible to anyone else in the room, the music was all I could see. It was all around me, everywhere I looked. It was in every passionate developé, every pirouette, every echappé. Every time I left the stage it filled my ears, eyes, and nose, telling me to stay calm, focus, and slowly take in another deep breath full of the Tchaikovsky-drenched air.