Dancing in the Studio vs. On Location

That’s a wrap! Teacher and I had a blast yesterday filming our routine for the Dancing Through the Decades virtual spotlight.

As you might guess from the photo, we danced “on location” in a local park. From the beginning, I really wanted to dance our routine outside. The COVID-19 pandemic burst the ballroom bubble. The real world had invaded the dance studio, so I felt it was time to bring the dance out into the real world.

Deciding to dance to a song from Wizard of Oz fit perfectly with my outside goal. There was plenty of laughter as we got used to dancing on grass and tried out different locations in the park to film.

As with everything else since March 2020, preparing and performing for this showcase was a different experience than in the past. It was a lot less stressful!

The obvious factor is the precording of our routine. We finished with several complete takes to choose from for the watch party next week. Instead of the heightened excitement mixed with anxiety that comes with performing live on stage with an audience watching, there was a relaxed sense of fun as we played with different tweaks to our characters and steps with each take.

Not performing live for an audience can make it feel a little underwhelming. There’s no applause at the end, just a guy walking his dog wondering what we’re doing and why we keep falling down.

On the other hand, not having the pressure of a live audience left space to play and get into character without the worry of getting it “right”. I ended each take smiling or laughing instead of fretting over mistakes. The process sparked my inner creative and made me want to keep trying different things to see how they would turn out on camera.

There is a rush that comes with performing live. When I competed, I could feel the energy of the room between the audience and the other dancers on the floor. It charged my performance and helped me to live in the moment. But once the dance is over, it’s over. There is no going back. Unless you have more heats to dance, you don’t get to try again after feeling a spark of inspiration or clarity during your last round.

A recorded performance usually doesn’t include an audience except the cold, empty camera lens. You may have other dancers whom you’re performing with and maybe a crew helping with the filming, but the energy mainly has to come from you. Recording gives you more opportunity to play in the creative process though. Even just looking for the best locations in the park to shoot inspired us to make last minute additions to our performance.

This one experience certainly hasn’t ruined me for live performances in the future, but it was fun to do and compare. It may have ruined me a little bit for dancing inside, though next time I film outside, I hope it isn’t during a heat wave. There’s something about dancing without walls or a ceiling that is quite freeing, but man, I was sweating hard core in my costume!

I just thought of another plus to the way we did this routine – no fake eyelashes! My makeup was minimal since 1) I was playing a scarecrow and 2) it’s 2020 so I was wearing a mask. Silver lining to pandemic life.

Now that we have our takes, I won’t be back in the studio for a couple weeks. One thing that the pandemic hasn’t changed is my financial limitations. It’s good timing in a way since the watch party is next week, so instead of a dance lesson, I’ll be watching a dance show.

I could watch them sleep all day.

The limited amount of dancing I’ve been doing has had me thinking/wondering about what to share on this blog and social media. My phone has more photos of my dogs sleeping now than dance-related photos or videos. A fellow blogger asked on her Instagram stories if anyone else felt like they didn’t have anything interesting to share on IG anymore thanks to the pandemic.

*raises hand*

This virtual spotlight performance was put together in a few lessons and we filmed it without any grand fanfare. I haven’t been able to do any solo practice at a studio and my knees are sensitive to doing too much on the carpet at home. No partner practice either, of course. It’s hard to share a dance journey that doesn’t have much dancing or journeying happening! And I doubt you find my sleepy puppies as captivating as I do.

It stands to reason that not every moment of Bilbo’s journey to the Lonely Mountain was exciting enough to include in The Hobbit. 2020 seems to be that less-than-interesting section of my dance journey. At least on the outside. A lot has happened on my internal journey. I’ve taken time to reflect on my priorities and what dance means to me. I’m doing more personal growth work. I’m revising plans for the future. On the outside though, I’m just working from home, watching my dogs sleep, and taking a dance lesson once a week (at most).

I’ll certainly try to keep things interesting for you here. If you have any topic requests, please feel free to share them! I can’t count how many blog posts were inspired by someone’s question or comment.

In the meantime, stay safe and happy dancing!

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