Friday, February 3, 2012

My most embarrasing moment - on tape

I just watched the most embarrassing thing I've ever done (repeatedly in front of a crowd).

It was 2005, my bonus semester at Pacific University. I loved dancing, and I still do, and for some reason I had it in my mind that I wanted to choreograph a dance number for the autumn dance recital. Normally this is reserved for real dancers, ones who have actually studied. I had taken ballroom, swing and salsa, and ventured into courses in jazz and ballet, but I can by no means say I was good at any of them. I was bent on doing a musical piece that I knew would probably be terrible, but that excited and fueled me even more.

I love Weezer, and I fully believe that the blue album is one of the top 5 best albums of all time. As usual when it comes to things I end up adoring, I was formally introduced to the musical stylings of Weezer by a cute blonde girl. On one of their less appreciated albums there is a song "Hold Me." Listening to it I could visualize a story I wanted to tell in dance and movement. It would have a man and a woman, the two dancing separately for most of the song, enticing the other until the end when they come together. It was much like a movie where the guy and the girl metaphorically dance around each other until the end when they realize they are perfect for each other. I wanted to choreograph my half and have a girl choreograph her half and we would collaborate on merging our styles for the end of the piece. I had the girl in mind (a different blonde girl from the one who introduced me to Weezer). She was--and is very much still--an incredible dancer, and a wonderful, brilliant person. I approached her with the notion of collaborating on the dance piece. She said yes. We were both excited about it. Perfect start!

We met together in the dance studio several times working out the story of the piece, but after a few rehearsals, we came to heads about the choreography. Us choreographing our own bits was not gelling with her as she wanted one person to give the piece an over-arching style. My dream of having two wildly separate styles and pairing them might have been a bit of a fools dream, and I am always that fool. When we realized it wouldn't work out since neither of us wanted to hand over the reigns entirely to the other, we broke up as a dancing team. This was honestly one of the hardest break-ups for me, because I knew there was a lot of creative potential going to waste...and we were in no way a couple, but that did not make it any less of a break-up for either of us.

I wanted to forge ahead, and being a headstrong taurean, I wanted to keep the interplay of male and female energy, but I had no other person. My solution-I would do both myself. Solo piece! I kept rehearsing both parts, trying to give each a different energy and I designed a costume. Having access to the theatre's sewing room, I spliced together a skirt and frilly shirt for the left half and a men's shirt for the right half. In my dance, the right side would be male and have more angular movement and my left side would be female and have a softer, more fluid quality. My former dance partner still worked with me, but in ad advisory position guiding me along the way.

For the end of the song when the male and female energies merge, I kind of entered a frenetic spin where I ripped off the outer costume (I sewed velcro into the dress and shirts), revealing a white shirt underneath with my black dance pants. I then pranced about as a whole person embodying these two separate energies. Looking back, that must have been my idea of what a true relationship is. Sometimes I'm way too much of a romantic for my own good.

What brought this back into my life was a search for things I have done in the past to mine for comedy now. I did not have a copy of this performance (probably for the best), so I asked a friend who works at the college to track it down for me. She worked fast and a couple days later, here I am in my apartment watching myself prance about the stage almost 7 years ago.

It's not a long song, but by the end of watching it I was so embarrassed about my performance that I was sweating. It was almost a fear sweat from all the shame and excitement of seeing this kid--me--make a fool of himself. The reason it effected me so much is not because it was ridiculous, though it was. It's because I really meant it. The whole piece came from a deeply sincere place. When I performed it, I remember both enjoying the fact that people were entertained enough to laugh at it, but also feeling confused and hurt as to why, since it was a serious piece at heart. That one instance of putting my soul out on a limb taught me two things: 1. If you are a funny person, people expect everything you do to be funny, so be prepared to be laughed at for everything, and 2. Real pain is the true source of comedy.

I'm not saying I'm a clown with a tear running down my cheek, but I guess I did achieve what I set out to do. I performed in the dance recital with the most vulnerable performance of my life at that time. I entertained and expressed myself fully. I now have video proof that I am an idiot adventurer. Even though I am ultimately embarrassed at watching myself prance about the stage putting my heart into every awkward move, I have a little bit of pride in knowing that it was pure and a sincere performance. That doesn't mean I'll be sharing this video anytime soon.

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