Since my SFDI experience I made a few decisions:
– I focused primarily on developing not just my dance ability but on developing solo dance pieces. After a week off to rest following SFDI (and a subsequent week resting with illness), I cleared all other commitments except for dance classes (Modern and Jazz) through Velocity Dance Center and eXit SPACE, plus….
– … I booked a ton of time in rehearsal space, about 20 hours between mid-August and the end of September, to hold myself to working on the latter. In fact, I committed personally to developing at least one concrete piece, a full length dance theatre work of which the pieces I did at Weird and Awesome + SFDI were part. Other pieces are on the table but this piece is my primary project.
– I decided to stop auditioning as an actor for theatre shows. At this point my work and ambitions have clearly outgrown the path of a working actor… though between clown and improv one could argue I had done that months ago. To spend 1-3 months as a small part of developing a remount or new work of insignificance is too much a sacrifice of my limited personal time for work that neither personally resonates with me nor has any real cultural impact.
But even the more open-ended and accessible arts of clown and theatre weren’t conducive to the direction I wanted to take so I took an active break from those. I left my improv group earlier this year and have since taken a break from working on clown… having seen through my work that my heart wasn’t in either the way it’s now into dance theatre.
During the last week and change I’ve pushed myself and danced myself to burnout. Not life-altering burnout, but ‘I need a bit of rest’ burnout. Along with my usual 40 hour day-job workweeks in a demanding admin position, I took four 90 minute dance classes and had four 2-hour personal rehearsal sessions since 8/18. It wasn’t like Strictly’s four hour sessions or the 14 hour SFDI days, but I was also coming off illness and the dance classes were a bit more advanced and rigorous. Jazz dance is relatively new to me, plus I slid into Intermediate Modern classes which of course pose more of a challenge.
Over the last couple days the exhaustion really hit me. I just didn’t have the needed drive in rehearsals to generate the movement I wanted or needed, even as the ideas kept coming. I dropped into Etienne Capko’s African dance class on Friday and finally had to duck out and take a powder halfway through because I could not physically or mentally keep up with the sequences.
I come from a family known for their work ethic. My father still works weeks of as many as 100 hours in his 60’s. My mother still works 40 hour weeks on an aged body with two busted knees. Many of my siblings work two jobs and 12-14 hour days. I myself finished college while working full-time, and did theatre classes and shows while working 40 hour weeks. It’s in our blood: Gomezs don’t look for reasons to quit. We keep going until the signs to rest pile up too high to ignore.
Recognizing this tendency I try to monitor myself and pack it in on a regular basis when I can control my schedule. But sometimes, especially when locked in on new and exciting endeavors, I get into the mode of pushing myself as far as I can go. And it’s up to my body to say ‘when’ through my energy levels and soreness before anything breaks. Yesterday and today it finally said ‘when’. I cut today’s rehearsal short after about 90 minutes, had a big meal, went home and took a long nap. I’ll hopefully sleep well tonight. I have a creative meetup and rehearsal scheduled tomorrow. Hopefully I can assemble a gameplan for the rehearsal that won’t require more than rudimentary movement.
This was in all honesty an exercise in seeing how far I can go before I need to rest, how many nights I can push myself to dance without pause. The answer appears, so far, to be ‘about a week or so’.