Well, after two AMAZING performances, OperaWorks AAP 2016 is over! The emotion of leaving really didn't hit me until I walked into my apartment last night. I was very overwhelmed to suddenly return to reality without the support of my "tribe," as we've taken to calling our group.
The experience we shared was something that could never be replicated in any other program or production. As we spoke during our wrap-up on Friday, many shared how deeply this program affected them and how freeing it was to have colleagues who were so supportive and open.
I shared with them my experience of our second Aria Marathon which happened the day before. I was having a bad day personally, and honestly did not feel like singing, but as I walked on stage I tried to remind myself to just use the tools we had worked on. I heard the voices in my head judging every note, but despite them I chose actions, attitudes, and movements, giving myself tasks to perform beyond my nerves. I paid attention to the meaning of each word, and focused on settling my body into my center and releasing tension from my neck every time I questioned myself. I listened to the music and reacted as best I could. I plowed through, but still left the stage unhappy with my performance because I felt my last high note wasn't "perfect." My judges let me sulk as I admired the work of my amazing colleagues.
Ann had instructed us at the beginning to write "love notes" to each person, detailing all the positive changes we witnessed. At the end, we gathered on stage and handed our notes to each other, and much to my surprise my colleagues and instructors painted a much different picture of my performance than I had experienced: they said I was open, expressive, and that they couldn't keep their eyes off of me! I was shocked! I explained to them that my experience proved to me that our talent and beauty can shine through despite our doubts. We can judge ourselves all we want, but if we focus on communicating, our message will come though because our artistry is more powerful than negative thought. (I also told them how uplifted I was by their energy. I had no room in my head for my bad day after spending a full afternoon surrounded by their amazing talent.)
Our performances this past weekend showcased all we had worked on, and I realized halfway through our act on Saturday that my usual "show jitters" were not there! I'm still not quite sure how it was possible, but I was not nervous at all. Perhaps it was the lack of expectation from the audience (the show was made up, afterall), or my increased confidence in myself, or my trust that my ensemble would work together, but regardless I made it through both performances without the usual knot in my stomach and shaky limbs. Performing this way felt so liberating! I was never worried I would forget a line or mess up notes, and instead I got to focus on my connection to my fellow performers and commitment to my performance. I got to fully present on stage, and it was thrilling.
Vida, our wise yoga-instructor, shared inspirational quotes each session, and I think she saved the best for last.
"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." -Joseph Campbell
I am so proud of my tribe! I am so proud of myself! We all took on this intense, month-long challenge to trust that we are enough. We followed our fears and emerged triumphant. During the past thirty days we opened ourselves up and began to realize the power we already have as artists, and the potential we each possess. As we go out into the world, I hope that we spread this energy rather than revert to being the scared singer at the crook of the piano. And while I miss my tribe immensely, I know we have a greater job to do now; it is our obligation to develop and share our art with an audience. We know we are enough, and now we need to start acting on that.
I move on to my next adventures carrying the lessons of this incomparable summer and the wonderful people I've met. To my tribe, may our paths cross again, but even if I never have the privilege of working with you again, know that I will hold the memories of our experience in my heart forever. <3<3<3