This summer was hard y’all. Physically, emotionally, and most importantly, creatively. As a staff member, we do so much – ranging from teaching, choreography, and performance – that it takes a huge toll on your body and mind. I’ve been back in CT a little over 2 weeks (since I started this blog post) and I’m just getting back to feeling like my hard-working self again. Let me give you a rundown of how working these camps go. Let’s talk.
At our team camps, the day usually starts around 7, reporting downstairs for a quick breakfast and stretch. On days we perform, we’re down a bit earlier for stretching and a quick run through. On non-performance days, we begin our teaching session by 8:30 and finish up around 11:30. Lunch is at noon (punctuated by manning the camp boutique) and we’re back into teaching at 12:30. That session finishes up at 2pm, another session starts at 2:30 (more teaching and instruction), followed by a technique session. This takes us to dinner time and another stint in the camp boutique. Our “instruction” day ends there. Don’t get happy though, that when the real work starts. Everything ranging from camp preparation and organization to staff instruction to more creation of choreography can take place. For those lucky ones, the days ends around 12. For those with more tasks & responsibility, the days ends as early as 1 and as late as 3AM. Yes, you read right. 3AM. All to do it over again the next day. I know what you’re thinking, “well stop procrastinating and get to work!” there’s minimal procrastination, chile. These are hours spent working!
As much as I positively love most of it, there comes a point when I hit a wall. Sometime between the fifth or sixth team camp, which is usually the 20th or 21st dance that I’ve finished choreographing the night before at 3am, I start to get a bit tired. No, Bryan, tell them the truth. Alright, I get hella tired. Everything gets on my nerves, the people I love to see and otherwise miss dearly, become hated enemies, and I want to strangle every child that asks me what count they personally start the choreography on in a ripple. AHHHHH!!!!! I just want to stop caring! The thing is though, that’s when the perfectionist in me starts to care more. Crazy, right?! I get even more intent on giving teams something great, something that satisfies myself and their director and my boss and my peers. I can’t just throw whatever in the dance and go to sleep and feel okay about it. I look at the clock and it says 1:57am and I have a third of a dance that I teach in 6 hours finished. I transform into Pheidippides, the messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens to tell others of the Greek victory over the Persian invasion. Instead of running those 26.2 miles, I’m running from June 12th to August 14th, screaming out choreography phrases instead of victory praises and correcting technique in place of tales of enemy defeat. The outcome is nearly the same too – instead of keeling over dead, I fall into bed, dead to the world for at least a day and a half (or however long it takes.)
After it’s all said and done, and I’m able to take a step back and look at the big picture, I find that I’ve emerged better than I was before. This summer was a test in modern and contemporary choreography for me. I choreographed countless pieces for schools across Texas to a myriad of songs and concepts. I was forced to think quickly and originally, as it’s easy to fall into old style and phrase habits when fatigued. But coming off the summer, I find I’ve widened my contemporary vocabulary and have a newfound fondness for the genre which I felt had become a bit stagnant for me. It is quite surprising actually – the clarity that comes from chaos. And believe me, it was chaos. I couldn’t do it any other way.