Posted by: maxvoltage | August 23, 2011

stage magic

The stage is a magical place, and has been my entire life.  My first memories were of playing with costumes, and putting on performances for my parents & their friends.  Then, when I started playing violin, every quarter we would have a recital, and I remember vividly the feeling of waiting, the little butterflies that before the show made me simultaneously anxious and excited, and during the performance would fuel me, make my vibrato stronger, my double stops sing-out with the adrenaline.  This soaring high of being in the spotlight, all eyes focused on me, playing at my best.  And afterwords, luxuriating in it, getting compliments and acknowledgement.  Feeling so very seen.

I was a crazy-shy kid growing up.  I had a really hard time interacting with strangers, meeting people, being social.  Once I knew people, I would open up.  But first, i would hide behind my parents legs.  When we had to order food at a restaurant, I would always have my little brother do it for me, so I wouldn’t have to talk to the intimidating waiter.  In school, I wouldn’t dare talk to the teachers.  Even when I knew the answers, I was too shy to even raise my hand.

The one thing people knew about me was that I played violin.  I would take any opportunity to play.  Talent show, school project, I would seize any opportunity to get on-stage in front of my peers & teachers.  In 3rd grade, we staged “The Wizard of Oz.”  Hilariously, I played a munchkin (and stood a good foot taller than Dorothy).  The extroverted drama of the theater wasn’t really my thing.  But before the show started, I was the opening act, and performed a solo violin piece.  THAT was my stage.

When people I put on a pedestal came and saw me perform, it meant the world to me.  When practicing violin, I would imagine the moment when teachers would come see me play.  The stage was the place from which I could show myself.  Until someone saw me play violin, they did not truly see me.  Even as an adult, I find this to be true.  I have outgrown my shyness (for the most part).  And my stage repertoire has now extended far past classical violin recitals.  But, I find myself rehearsing and fantasizing that my current crush is sitting in the audience watching me.  I often go out of my way to perform in front of the people I care about, and care about impressing.  When people I love come see me perform, it means the world to me.  Because to me, it means they are invested in truly seeing me, and knowing who I am in the world.

I connect with people through performance.  Some of my closest, life-long relationships were forged through performance & performance communities.  Sharing a stage with someone is one of my most intimate experiences.  It requires so much trust in another person, to stand in front of people next to them; trust that they will do justice to this shared vision you’ve created together, trust that they have the instincts to react well when things get bumpy, will they keep going no matter what, and not miss a beat.  Sharing a stage is like stepping into a magical world together; it creates a connection like none-other.

It is a blessing and a struggle, to be so compelled toward the spotlight.  The between times can be rough.  I am working on being less hard of myself, and remembering that in between the performances comes rest and rejuvenating.  Learning how to live the rest of my life, in between performances, is the real challenge.  How do i harness that energy and drive that performance gives my life, while finding happiness down on the ground.  Even birds have to land sometimes.

I think a huge part of that for me has been diversifying my performances so that the arcs, the roller-coaster rides, aren’t so steep.  Yes, that performance is over but look, there’s another one just around the corner!  Having lots of performances, lots of creative projects going concurrently all the time, is my over-achiever way of keeping myself grounded.  Right now for example, I’m taking tap-dance lessons, I’m in a string-quartet (Queertet), just finished a theater piece that I am considering expanding into a larger piece, I am in a band (Glitterfruit) and working on putting together our first album, and I’m re-launching my queer cabaret series Homomentum, where I MC and often perform.  With so many projects, I can’t sink all of myself too intensely into any one venture; helps me avoid becoming co-dependent on any one artistic outlet.  Turns out I’m polyamourus in my relationships AND with my art.  I tend to define myself in the world by what i do, and this way, when I’m doing so many projects, my identity isn’t hinged on any one project, which gives me the freedom to change and grow, and to walk away from projects that are no longer feeding me.

On stage is where I feel truly seen.  And until you have seen me onstage, I don’t think you know who I am.  I am most myself when I am up there.  I am my best self up there.  Whether I’m MCing, dancing, playing music, or putting on a one-homo-show.  The fastest way to my heart is through the stage.

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