Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Showgirl Things #1

The best part of this photo is our reflections in the ice!!
I have now been in Orlando for 41 days, and have performed in 30 shows. We are currently in the middle of a few days off before this Friday (December 14), when we start having shows every day through New Year's. We have 37 shows left!

Because of all the thoughts this new experience has spurred, I thought it would be fun to start a small blog series to record the things I learn, notice, and try throughout different contracts. Welcome to Showgirl Things #1!

So what have I learned, after a month and a half, my first rehearsal process, and doing the same half hour show several times a night? That this world is a weird little world of it's own, and I've still got so much to learn.

There are no topics off-limits in a dressing room. Before and between shows, our topics of conversation have included: boyfriends, periods, sex, sloths, ingrown hairs, our weirdest pimples, toe hair, wine, beer, places to drink wine and beer, church, marriage, plus lots of personal stories of struggle and family and what's coming next. The good, the bad, and the ugly; if you're thinking about it, it's okay to talk about it.

Speak Up. Despite how it felt (for me) at first, it is NOT embarrassing to admit you didn't hear what the choreographer said, or didn't understand a note, or something on your costume broke, or you're costume is uncomfortable, or you actually can't do what they're asking you to. It is embarrassing to NOT say something and then, later, be dealing with not knowing the steps, making the same mistake, dealing with a costume that doesn't work, or constantly missing an element. Be honest, and speak up for yourself.

Listen to everyone who tells you to buy Biofreeze and ice your feet. Rehearsal Day 1, I was told to ice my feet and ankles. I ignored them, because "I've had long practices before" and "we weren't even jumping". By Day 3, I was sitting with a bucket of ice every night and looking forward to it. Get ahead of it! Prevent injury! Help your muscles recuperate!

Modesty is overrated. The first time you see people chilling without clothes, it will be weird. But the second? Meh. No one is looking at you. So take off your bra and towel the sweat off. You'll feel much better.

Be a whole person. If skating is your job, then you have to find something else to bring you joy. Host move nights. Be the one that always brings food. Start a new hobby. But make sure you have interests other than skating.

Pre-Set Leaving For The Night. Every night, we pre-set our costumes for quick changes. It only took me a month and a half, but I finally realized how the veterans get out so quickly at night: they pre-set leaving. So now, before the last show, I put my makeup away, lay out the clothes I'm changing into, fill my water bottle, and try to get things ready to go. It makes it much easier to deal with packing up while sweaty and tired when half of it is done.

Don't gossip. Don't give notes. I love talking. It's hard to keep my mouth shut. The people I see here who have accomplished the most in their skating careers don't bad mouth other skaters or choreographers or producers, don't give notes, don't blame, and our very selective about who they vent to.

Sleep In (Not Always). Since we're all in evening shows, I've been sleeping a lot. And enjoying it. But! Don't squander the opportunity for growth. This contract is pretty sweet in that the schedule is definitely not crazy. So, I've been trying to use my free time to get better at yoga, run and do pilates more often, journal, and find work for when this is done! Explore. Workout. Cook. Read. It's so much more fun to be busy.

You were hired because you deserve this. So focus on what you need to do. I have definitely found myself acting embarrassed while on practice ice because I was working on jumps that I can't land, and was worried other skaters were judging me. But, firstly, that's almost definitely all in my head and, secondly, who cares? We were hired for the same job. We all have different strengths. Working on hard things make you better. Don't avoid that just to look good.

Find moments to really appreciate what's happening. So, yes. It's the same show, twice a night. Some nights go better than others. But the last thing I want, is for this incredible opportunity, that I've dreamed of and worked towards for so long, to start to feel stale. This is the only advice on this list that is coming directly from me, and isn't something I've stolen from another cast member: find a spot to just be grateful. In our finale, the music starts to crescendo as we skate to our final poses, they start shooting off fireworks from the lake our stage is in front of (!!), and together we stop and start spinning before hitting our final pose. During that stop, I look straight up, really watch the fireworks, and really see the magic of the moment and what we're doing, and with all the stress lifted because the show is practically over, I think about how amazing it is that this is my job. This little moment feels very meditative. I recommend finding one for whatever your day-to-day is.

I am really loving it here! I've learned so much, and I actually felt at home fairly quickly. I want more of this in my future, that's for sure.

Thanks for reading! Be the grittiest.
xoxo Gillian