Rehearsal has an unwavering hold on the life of a dancer. Casting, learning choreography, setting formations, scraping everything only to return to the original, incorporating acting, cleaning entrances and exits, working with props and costumes, and relearning choreography everyone misunderstood the first time consumes an amazing amount of time. While the rehearsal process can be wondrous fun, it can also be trying, tedious, and frankly exhausting. Consequently, when a rehearsal is shortened or canceled altogether, dancers often experience an unparalleled feeling of elation.
Getting back time that had previously been written off as rehearsal is liken to receiving a gift. Smiles light the faces of those receiving the news. Anticipation as the newly liberated time grows nearer and nearer. Finally the time arrives and you act upon the urge to jump for joy. There’s a funny thing that happens once the jumping concludes, however. Often, rather than using their time to do something especially fun or exciting, a dancer will slip into some super comfy sweats and curl up in front of the TV. They’ll putz around on the Internet. They may even get some work done that they’ve been meaning to get to. In times like these, I’ve often found myself thinking, “This must be how normal people lead their lives.”
The irony of it is that “normal” people can’t appreciate what they have. They don’t quite realize how quiet and calm their existence is. Without rehearsal to dominate and clog up their lives, they have a world of time at their disposal. When dancers get a moment to enter that world, they revel in it. They wallow in the serenity of inactivity, of just being home for a while. They know that they had better take advantage of every millisecond of that time, for it is not likely to come again soon. There is a seemingly paradoxical urgency to relax that cannot quite be explained to those who haven’t experienced it. It is a shame so few do experience it, actually, because from that sensation is born some of the most satisfying down-time that can be known.