Syracuse Ballroom Showcase: Things I Learned

Hello internet–it’s been a busy few weeks.

I am currently sitting at home in a haze, still riding the high of the show last night.

What show, you say?

The Syracuse Ballroom Showcase, of course.

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Photo Credit: Dennis Nett, Syracuse.com

The path to producing this show has been a long and interesting one, and I thought I would take today to recap some of the lessons learned.

I Fricking Love Directing

This isn’t a huge shock–and definitely not to anyone who’s worked with me–but this is the largest project that I have choreographed and directed to date. And it’s been a blast! I love being the person standing on the auditorium floor, giving direction and figuring out ways to achieve the effect I want, both from the dancing and the production tech.

In a more abstract sense, I love being able to give other people opportunities. The dancers, the other choreographers, the photographers, and beyond–I relish having created a project that lets others have an outlet or even a job. Someone once took a chance on 18-year-old me and gave me seven dancers and free reign. I want to be that someone for aspiring artists now, and in the future.

Being a Dancer and Director is Really Hard

This is again not a total shock. I’ve known since I was 18 that choreographing a piece in which I am also performing is tricky, because I can’t step back and see the big picture during development. My original goal for the Showcase was to keep my performing to a minimum, so I could focus on featuring others and the behind-the-scenes logistics. Well, best-laid plans and all that, as I ended up needing to perform in half the numbers. Obviously it was a blast, and I enjoy performing, but there is a part of my brain that is running through the light cues for the following pieces the whole time.

I’m not ready to 100% give up performing, but I’d really rather not be in my own choreography. And if I’m directing a show, I most definitely do not want to be the lead.

Delegating!

Again, not a newsflash, but this experience has solidified the knowledge that there are two categories of theater-things that I love to delegate: costumes and advertising. I didn’t have the luxury of delegating costuming choices and creation for this show, but it’s something that I definitely want to hand off to a trusted minion in the future.

Likewise, with advertising–I was incredibly lucky to have my partner-in-crime Bethany Β to head up the ad campaign. With her in charge of reaching out and graphic design and so on, I just had to check in, offer suggestions, and talk into the microphone. Future me had better make friends with more media people.

Projects Like This Take Time

And I don’t mean in the “it took a year to go from crazy idea to finished product” (which it did). I mean that this kind of a project would not have been possible if I had not lived in Syracuse for seven years, built up the SU Ballroom infrastructure, and become part of the greater dance community. I’ve made friends, enemies, connections, and generally have become a familiar face, someone people know to be a good dancer and a creator-of-things.

This realization is both good and bad–I’m happy that I’ve been able to build this project, but also it means it could take a while before I can attempt something else like it.

I Can Do This Long Term

As most of you probably know by now, I’m soon leaving the ‘safe haven’ of my corporate job to launch a career in the arts. This Showcase is the largest performing arts event I’ve personally organized–and I loved it. Sure, there are things I would improve upon in the future, but I’m heartened to realize that this is one of the things I love to do. I’m not “just” a dancer, but I’m a choreographer, a director, heck, maybe I could even be a theater manager. Obviously I want to make my own work, but I really enjoy making opportunities for others to share their work.

In any case–this experience has left me more confident in my upcoming life-upheaval. One show down, many more to go.

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