Dress Rehearsals are always a bit nerve-wracking. It is the first chance to sing in the space, the first time working with the orchestra, the first time performing the pieces in front of a crowd, and the first time working with the hall’s audio equipment. That’s a lot of firsts for someone who likes to know exactly what is going to happen at all times. (It’s ok. You can call me a control freak. I’ve made my peace with it.) Throughout my college years, I was always anxious before a dress rehearsal. I felt I had to play the part of the diva and present a façade of perfection and sophistication. I believed that my voice would not be taken seriously if I didn’t look and act like the perfect prima donna. Unfortunately, I’ve never been perfect and I’ve never been very sophisticated. The wacky, giggly, fun-loving character I am was forced into submission as I tried to be something I wasn’t. The stress of “playing the part” would create so much tension that my performance was always compromised. I’d finish each rehearsal or performance completely exhausted, emotionally drained, and feeling that I had done myself a disservice. I tried to be something I wasn’t and lost myself in the process.
As I continue down my yogic path, I find I am slowly breaking down that stone wall of deceit. The more I let myself be who I am, the more I bring to my music. I find emotion, musicality, vocal freedom, and the focus necessary to perform at my optimal ability. The less energy I spend on being something I’m not, the more I can channel that saved energy into vocal color and nuance. While I still apply the eyeliner, lipstick, and blush, and wear the fancy dress and heels, under all that decoration, I’m still the same yoga-loving, granola-eating, floor-sitting, and bare-footed me. I let myself smile generously, laugh heartily, express interest in other people, and be grateful for all who cross my path. I might even do a bit of yoga between songs… actually, that’s pretty much a given. The life of a performer is much more gratifying when you stay true to yourself. We spend enough time playing characters on stage, why be someone else after the stage time is over? Be yourself, dirty yogi toes and all.
Pre-performance forward fold. Sometimes you have to kick off your shoes and get your feet dirty. When the world is spinning, when my life becomes overwhelming and I find my mind spinning in circles, I fold in on myself. I let everything settle, feel the ground beneath my toes, and breathe. I find my true self once again, all it takes is a little self-hug.