As I type this, our troupe is in the middle of the busiest performance season we have had in of years. By mid-March, we will have had eight performances in three weeks, when in the previous months we had closer to one performance every eight weeks. And as I type this, my co-director Renee is about ready to bring her new daughter Rose into the world, and has been on maternity leave since the beginning of the year. One would think this was a recipe for head-exploding or rock-crawling-under or possibly both simultaneously.
But instead, I am feeling refreshed, challenged, rewarded. And it’s a pretty exciting time for yours truly, to be honest.
In a previous post I talked about discipline and setting up structures in our life to support success, and then outlined my Game Plan in 2010. And I am already seeing the results of these structures, as they are helping me to handle a large volume of unexpected responsibilities with relative ease (yeah, I know I just jinxed it ;).
Last week our troupe participated in four performances alone, and each one was an incredible testament to my beautiful dance sisters’ skills and professionalism. They really have been amazing, stepping up to the new challenges and delivering performances with grace, power, and beauty. They are the real reason these shows are a success. But as any director knows, each of those performances translated into a zillion little details that had to be discussed, tracked, and followed up on. And for those who don’t know what role directors play in the life of a performance, here is a little breakdown.
A General Timeline of Organizing a Performance:
* Initial contact with host
* Discuss schedule with troupe and secure commitments
* Put on tentative schedule
* Contact host to confirm participation and determine:
– event time and location (and parking info as needed)
– number of performances and performance length
– venue details, including stage dimensions, entrance and
exit options, and dressing area info
– expected arrival time, where and with whom to check in
* Update online calendar with show info so far
* Discuss music options with troupe, considering venue and audience
* Edit music as needed, assemble set, make sure it hangs together,
& adjust as needed
* Plan staging and/or choreography
* Rehearse, revise set music as needed, possibly re-editing
and/or changing set order or content
* Rehearse final set beginning to end
* Discuss costuming and finalize details
* Mail out/upload any new music edits to group
* Update online calendar with new details
Of course there is a lot of follow-up communications in here, among multiple hosts sometimes and the six members of my troupe; and this doesn’t include day-of preparation and planning, of course. But that’s the “setting up the details” list off the top of my head.
As you may imagine, none of these steps are as linear as they appear on paper, nor does each step represent one meeting, one e-mail, one discussion or decision. And when there are multiple gigs coming up around the same time, the flurry of information, constantly shifting, can be rather daunting.
In February, we have been juggling the details of 12 performances over six weeks.
How did I not dissolve in a puddle of directorial freak-out? STRUCTURE!!
Ah, it isn’t lost on me that I am right now singing the praises of something I felt pretty proud of operating without. I like working for myself because it means my schedule is incredibly flexible. I can (for the most part) decide the flow of my days and weeks, and let things unfold somewhat organically. But when it comes to Getting Shit Done, being too fluid can be your enemy. You develop habits of procrastination, laziness, and even get stubbornness against YOURSELF (“I know I should be doing my paper work, but I don’t wanna.” *harumph*), in the long term making your own life more cluttered, both literally and figuratively. Complacency leads to being overwhelmed, and then we are frozen.
But I have been spending the beginning of 2010 trying to establish better habits–better structure–in my daily life so that I won’t get overwhelmed by the details. I am teaching myself how to take lots of small bites that add up to big results. It’s WORK! It has not been easy, but it has been incredibly satisfying, and I can see how it is not only affecting me, but others in my life. I can see how my husband’s attitude has shifted, and how supportive he is being was no surprise but very welcome. I see how my troupe-mates have stepped up to be more involved in the day-to-day of the troupe, really engaging me and each other on a level I honestly don’t think we have ever experienced; and I see how that creates a feedback loop of pride and satisfaction which makes us all want to keep that positive momentum into the future. And the rest of my framily has been so incredibly helpful and positive, feeding me even more fuel to keep this going into the future.
Will it last? Of course I hope so, but part of this process is promising myself to stay here in the moment. Little bites. Little steps. Focus on what’s in front of me, and really give it 100% and see it through. I feel like I am finding my footing at a time when I most needed to get my balance. Yeah.