“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!!” our diva blurted out to her non-present nutritionist as she smelled the delicious scent of the coffee brewing on the counter. She wasn’t really that sorry though. She still couldn’t give up the coffee. It was worth the price. While she waited for the water to boil in advance of poaching her morning eggs, our diva had a sudden vision. She could see her grandmother’s face pass through her imagination so clearly it almost startled her. Our diva smiled and noticed a bittersweet feeling as she said out loud, “wish you could have been there…”
The first night of her residency had felt like a big win. People came to it! They participated in the activities! She even noticed people introducing themselves to other participants at their tables. She was just relieved that it hadn’t been only her, her cousin, and the other musicians there. It was definitely an intimate audience, as they say, but she felt successful.
The Day 21 challenge on your journey is to discover your joy while performing.
Feeling like she was on fast-forward through the day, our diva found herself back at Hail House for the second night before she knew it. Everyone had shown up on time for the sound check and the speakers were energized for their new activities for this at-bat. People were trickling in right before the start time. Our diva moved around the crowd and did her best to engage people and introduce herself. Those nametags were such a good idea, she thought. It helped her put faces to names of the ticket buyers and it seemed to help people notice her role in the whole ordeal and want to ask her more.
Standing near a questionable painting of Pizza Rat, our diva was deep into a conversation with mental health professionals who had heard about the event from the speakers. Something caught the corner of her eye and she turned for a moment to witness the clarinetist who had bailed at the last minute walking in through the front door. Stunned, she felt a little taken aback. “This guy bails on me at the last minute and then has the gall to show up to the concert?” she thought. She caught herself mid-reaction and slowly turned back to her conversation partners. She decided that she was going to leave it alone. She wasn’t going to let that negative energy get in the way of her goals right now. She excused herself and walked to the green room. It was time to hit the stage!
Good Stage Presence Means Respect
She gave the welcome and introductions that she had meticulously practiced and was waiting for the first speaker to finish before she went on stage to sing during the first activity. She really cared about this project. She wanted to make sure that her passion was showing through and encouraging others. She heard the clarinetist’s unmistakeable laugh. Her insecurity pricked up inside of her. She couldn’t tell if he was laughing because he was enjoying himself or mocking whatever was going on. “Girl, good stage presence is a musician’s respect for herself, her collaborators, the music, and the audience — no matter who is in it.” she lectured herself. “Now, get out there and show them that you’re happy they’re all there. Even that guy.”
Our diva smiled warmly as she hit the stage. While she was singing, she felt so at peace. She felt incredibly open and communicative. It was an entirely different experience than being in a costume and wig on stage in the opera. That felt great too but this was definitely unique. Almost like a drug. She remembered that “open field” moment her Kansas friend had told her about.
I turned a right corner and suddenly I was sailing over open road in a red convertible. I could feel the sun on my face. It was right. Everything opened up after that. Everything.
Performance Flow States
She could feel it. The stage lights felt like that same sunlight spilling all over her. She sang more exuberantly than she ever had in practice. After it was over she flowed through her bow and walking off stage. Everything felt like this one threaded expression of movement after that. She moved back and forth from stage to audience with intentionality and grace. She caught her cousin’s eye and she gave our diva two thumbs up. It felt amazing.
The final night of the residency was the same. There were little things here and there which needed her attention or fixing in the moment. However, it didn’t feel like she was running around trying to put out fires. Even with the short runway of prep time for a project like this, she felt like she had prepared really well. She could mentally note all the elements that had gotten pushed to her “next time” list but felt so grounded in her decision not to try too much for this first outing.
Discovery Mindset in Performance
The fact that she didn’t feel scared or afraid of this audience was surprising to our diva. She thought it must be because she had tapped into something really important to her and she felt very strongly about it needing to exist in the world. It was funny because one of the mental health volunteers had talked about how to replace unrealistic expectations to help quell anxiety in performers. She felt herself applying this while performing. She didn’t dwell on little mistakes here or there. She didn’t crescendo that phrase the way she wanted to or had practiced, but she didn’t let it derail the rest of her performance. She realized that she had somehow slipped into a “discovery mindset” during some of her pieces. “Oh, that’s what this feels like when performing in front of other people,” she recalled feeling. She even caught herself when her focal point drifted toward the floor or too high. She thoughtfully brought it back to a place of connecting with her audience.
She collapsed in her bed after the third night. Her cousin, plus her cousin’s entourage of friends, had tried everything to get her to come out with them. Our diva begged off promising them another night of revelry. It was exhausting to do all of this organizing and performing! All she wanted was to feel the glow of how good it felt to perform, watch some netflix, and fall asleep.
Performance is Habit-Forming
As our diva’s eyelids started to droop, she tried to savor the feeling she had for just a moment longer. She knew it wouldn’t stay for too long. Right before sleep stole her off to dreamland she managed to whisper, “Oh boy, this is addictive…”