The weather this weekend was great for performing in the outdoor dance concert at the Rose Garden. (See Outdoor Dance.) In the years that I've either attended or been in the show, there has been one day that usually gets rained out. This year, it rained in the middle of the night, and by evening the next day we were able to dance on relatively dry ground.
Whenever you're involved in a live performance, it's good to be prepared as much as possible because many things can go wrong. From prop malfunctions to missing costume pieces to traffic delays, anything has the possibility to throw you off your game (which provides rich fodder for lots of good memories and back stage stories to talk about later!)
This time when I performed, I was relatively well prepared. I had my costume in place a week beforehand; I checked my music, brought an extra CD, arrived early to beat rush hour traffic and tried to stay well hydrated. The first night everything went smoothly. We had an audience of over 400, a light breeze tempered the humidity, and the mosquitoes stayed at bay.
The second night, I stepped out in the space in front of family, friends, and peers to do my solo. I was about two verses into my piece when the music began cutting in and out. I've had this happen before, and in those tense moments you have to decide how you want to handle the situation. Should you stop and have the tech crew start the music over? Or should you keep going and hope the problem gets resolved quickly?
The thing I've learned from hanging around theatre groups is that "The show must go on." The play or performance or dance becomes what it is in that moment whether you have a broken prop, a ripped costume, a forgotten line, or a missed entrance.
So, that's what I did. At first I was a bit lost trying to locate my musical cues, but once I found my place, I moved through the breaks of silence and released my four-minute dance into the space, letting it become a new, organic piece of art that will be remembered for a long time.
I found out later that the problem was not with the music but with the sound levels. If the volume was too high, it put too much load on the speakers and they'd cut out.
After the show I received a lot of great feedback about my dancing, how beautiful it was, how well I dealt with the problem, how I kept going, how I stayed focused and didn't get ruffled.
Was I disappointed? Yes, a bit. My hope was to share the theme and story of the dance, not show people my ability as a performer - to keep going no matter what happens. But maybe that's what the audience needed to see on that second night. So much of life is about following through, overcoming obstacles and trusting God even when things are falling apart.
Maybe it's not about the stories we're trying to tell, but about the stories that we become and the hope that they offer.
For this, I was created.