July 7, 2011

Because I Have To

First, watch this (the dance itself occurs between 0:45 and 2:45):

Do you STILL have goosebumps? I have seen it probably 20 times now and I get goosebumps every time. Without fail.

This routine has re-lit a fire in my heart and I've been wanting to write/blog about this ever since I saw it live...but it's so hard to put into words how it made me feel and how it so captured precisely why I love performing.  No...why I have to perform.

There have been some absolutely incredible dance routines that I've seen on So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD from her on out...), even in the short time that I've been keeping up with the show.  I've also been bombarded (in the most awesome way) with YouTube clips of everyone's favorites from seasons I didn't watch.  But this one is going to be hard to top.

Do you want me to tell you why?  Because of the acting.  Is the choreography brilliant? Yes.  Is the execution damn near perfect?  YES.  But it's the acting that sells it. It's the performance of the piece and the commitment to storytelling done by the two performers.  As I said, I've watched this over and over and OVER and I can tell you that there's not one beat of this dance that Melanie and Marko aren't completely committed to the story and to the characters they are playing. 

It makes me want to be one of the characters

If you advance through some of the craziness of the judges' comments (which are pretty hilarious...), you'll hear Kristin Chenoweth say to them what I haven't been able to put into words when it comes to why this show speaks to me:

"We sing because we can't speak anymore. Dance is an extension of that. We can't speak anymore, so we move. You are the epitome of the kind of language I understand."
YES.  As a performer myself and as someone who, in my own opinion, was created to love and experience this kind of artistic expression...that is how I feel. 

When I watched this performance live from my own living room last Wednesday night, I couldn't stop crying.  Not because of the story of the piece (that was part of it) but because I felt my heart ache to be a part of something that special again.

I'v been talking to some friends recently about the phenomena I mentioned above...the idea that when something truly special is happening in a performance (dance, recital, play, movie, musical, etc.), there's a part of you that feels yearning...the need to experience that yourself. It's almost like envy...jealousy...but without the negative connotations associated with those words.  It doesn't even have to be a dramatic moment...it can even be the phrasing done by a singer of a certain song, or the impeccable timing of witty, comedic banter. 

But what you're really seeing? Is complete understanding of the piece and the character, commitment to decisions, and a willingness to abandon oneself to the scary (but awesome) vulnerability of complete immersion in a moment in that character's story.  And that's why it's so special to watch, to hear, to experience as an audience member or a listener or a viewer.  It's like an intimate party that only you are invited to...even if you're in an audience of thousands.

For all of you who ask me why I will commit two months of my life to a role, why I have to almost literally sit on my hands to keep myself from attending auditions every time they come up and why it means so much to me that I can't stop tears during performances sometimes (my own or others')...the answer is both complicated and beautifully simple:

Because I have to.