Performance Empathy

Performing brings me some of the greatest joy in my life. I am a shy person by nature and it is something many people do not realize about me. Apparently, I come off as confident, friendly, and poised. Though, on the inside, I am often struggling to step out of my shell. This is what I love about performing. I get to step into another persona and completely become that for a while.

Trying to determine what character I become depends so much on the piece, the intention, the movement. That character has to come from within. I cannot plaster a mask on and expect it to look like anything human or authentic. The character that I become has to come from something I have experienced. That is one part of it that I love. I get to relive many parts of my life in being a dancer as I am always drawing from my past to create my present.

When I am off the stage, I find I have to be summoning that experience for a while before I am performing. I don’t live in that past experience day in and day out. However, I do revisit it frequently so that I easily switch that character on. This is essential, especially when I have multiple performances with different emotions that have to be portrayed within each or between the pieces. Dancing different genres often requires the quick switches of emotion from day to day and even dance to dance within the genre.

Getting to step into those characters always teaches me so much about my own life. It helps me to empathize with others who are going through the same thing. It also helps me to empathize with myself. To remember where I have come from. What I have overcome. What I still need to work on in myself. I am always so enriched for the experience of performing.

Once I step on that stage, everything in my life disappears. Nothing else matters. I become present. My world slows down. I see more. I hear more. I smell more. I taste more. I feel more. Every sense is heightened in me. I become my past and get to show the audience that past. I get to share a deep part of me that I cannot express with words. The world gets to know me deeper without necessarily consciously understanding what happened. It is transformative and I am thankful that I get to experience this as many times as I have in my life. Yes, I am truly thankful.

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