This past weekend I had the privilege of doing what I love once again-dancing on stage. Performing in front of a large audience just brings such vivacity into life in a way that other things cannot, although nerves, doubtful thoughts, inner turmoil, and exhaustion like to tag along. Double the fun too, if it includes a fairly large cast of dancers that you get to share the experience with up on the stage (which it did). So all in all, this weekend was a fun one. It was my dance conservatory’s Spring Concert, and I had the privilege of performing in George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, which originally premiered in 1946. If you don’t know anything about this particular ballet of good ol’ George’s, here’s a little info.
The Four Temperaments begins with three separate themes. Each takes the form of a duet, with one woman and one man. I had the honor of performing the woman’s role (for obvious reasons), in the second theme. The ballet then goes on to portray four different temperaments, as the title alludes to. These temperaments being: melancholic, sanguinic, phlegmatic, and choleric. Lastly, all of the dancers appear back on stage for the finale, which incorporates movement vocabulary from each of the four temperaments previously portrayed.
Additionally, The Four Temperaments is one of Balanchine’s Black and White ballets- meaning that the costume worn by the dancers is only a black leotard and pink tights for the ladies, and a white shirt and black tights for the gentlemen. This basic costume, which mimics everyday practice clothing, allows for visible clean lines, and doesn’t hide anything (almost not hiding what it needs to hide).
Part of this whole performance experience involved wearing the actual black leotards and pink tights worn by the New York City Ballet dancers. So for one, these costumes were very old. The black belts worn around our waists were fraying by the minute and we had to be extremely gentle in order not to poke holes in the delicate leotard fabric. For two, these costumes were also quite small. The tights no longer had stretch in them, so they were constantly falling down, but the leotard was the best part. That moment when you are in the wings preparing yourself to look just right as you take your first step on stage (where you would normally just adjust a strap, tweak a bobby pin, or just take a deep breath) I would pull the leotard up. But nope, that wouldn’t do, so I’d pull it down, but then pull it up again, but nope back down it goes- there just wasn’t enough fabric to cover everything necessary. However, when performing, you’ve got to pretend none of this is happening. Even if a wardrobe malfunction does occur while on stage, you can’t exactly stop, turn around and tell your partner to hold up a minute, and fix it. That’s just not how live performances work.
Here is a picture of my wonderful partner (seriously though he is the best partner ever) and I backstage before the performance. As you can see, the leotard is quite small.
Anyway… I hope the audience enjoyed seeing a decent amount of my booty on stage this weekend (I chose to pull the leotard up). Despite the tiny costume and surrounding difficulties, I had so much fun performing this piece, and I would love to have the chance to dance it again in the future.