I’ve always been a little afraid of the dark.
There’s something about pitch black space that has never sat well with me. It seems to swirl about shapelessly, taunting my confused pupils with invisible threats. For when darkness is unavoidable, which it so often is, I’ve discovered a little trick to escaping its grip: with closed eyes and deepened breath, I slip into the serenity of my very own eclipse.
Standing in the wings before Apollo, the house lights go down and ceremonious Stravinsky inflates. For several measures, alone in the highest wing stage right, I must wait in darkness. Trapped in emptiness and the discomfort this holding brings me, I dive into my darkness. Eyes closed and hands in anjali mudra, I meditate. I press my palms together and study the shifting of my weight, attempting to create an equal and opposite energy inwards, gently squeezing every muscle towards my center with a special focus on the connection of my feet through the shanks of my pointe shoes and into the floor. I am careful to correct any asymmetry in my stance, to quiet the flicker of my eyelids and to kindly remind myself of my own nowness. I am here, I am here, I am here. The final chord carries up with it the rising of the booms from respite to brilliance and my eyelids part on a slow count of 8.
The first 6 movements have passed and I’m returned to my corner. A wave of emotions wash through me watching the naturally serious Mindaugas noticeably gleeful in his pas de deux with Vilia. He moves freely in the steps given to Mr. Balanchine’s Apollo, portraying the character with an ease that cannot be planned, taught, or otherwise artificially obtained; It is manifestation- a serendipitous expression of the perfect meeting between dancer and ballet. It is beautiful, it is magical, and I am honored once again.
all photos by Brenna DiFrancesco, Apollo choreography by George Balanchine©