“In “Walpurgisnacht,” Ms. Mearns gives the single greatest ballerina performance of our era —hurling out fantastically bold, amazingly precise, rivetingly complex dance coloratura with musical blaze and rich colors. I say “hurling out” — this is exultant, space-filling dancing, with a strong element of swagger — but I don’t underestimate the twinkling wit of Ms. Mearns’s delivery, the driving impulsiveness of her self-contradictory turns to right and left, the subtleties of her unexpected pauses.”
Linger as long as possible at the theater. Take one last cast picture with friends. Take one last dressing room selfie. Help anyone and everyone put away costumes and props, whether they need or want your help or not. Take one last panoramic view of the stage. Take one last artsy, Instagram photo of the stage…Repeat as desired–or until security throws you out.
Wonder why magic has to end so soon… Suddenly recall every real (or imagined) shortcoming in your performances–your double turns, your nervous smiles, that time you put your headpiece on backwards during a quick change–valuable moments onstage you’ll never get back….Why, why, why…
Remember that the show can still go on…on social media! Make photo albums for Facebook. Add half a dozen filtered pictures and videos to Instagram in one evening. Tweet cryptic, bittersweet tweets hourly. If anyone unfollows you for oversharing, well, they weren’t a true friend anyway…
Anyway, at least there is next year… Yes, think about next year… There are probably three or four roles you’d be a candidate for… But, which ones are you most likely to get? So many factors worthy of obsession here… What if you grow a couple of inches? What if you somehow shrink? What if your petit allegro miraculously improves?
“In the performing arts, there is generally some contest between the performer and the thing being performed, and audiences can frequently get their pleasure from evaluating the one against the other. Yet nothing is more exciting to an audience than performing that is so far out of itself and into the subject of the performance that the two can’t be separated. When that happens, we have the illusion of absolute art, though we know it is only an illusion.”
Here’s a clip of American Ballet Theatre performing the last part of American choreographer Agnes de Mille’s American-themed Rodeo (1942).
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this work performed live by Alabama Ballet. (Here’s my review.) Unfortunately, I don’t think her work translates that well onto film for some reason. More so than the works of other choreographers, it loses a vitality and dramatic charge. So, if you get a chance to see Rodeo live, go!
That said, I am still glad, of course, that there is footage of her ballets available! ABT gives a spirited performance here in this pared-down excerpt on a small stage without scenery or orchestra: