I have just had a fantastic week enjoying performances and am feeling totally inspired and in awe of the performers. Firstly I went to Blackpool to watch the Open British Dance Championships. Whilst there I took in a trip to the Blackpool Tower Circus, and finally spent an afternoon at the Kevin and Karen Live Tour in Aylesbury.
Open British Dance Championships
We arrived at Blackpool by car. Like many others I suspect , we looked out for the Blackpool Tower hoping to be the first one in the car to see it. When you do see it and you have competed at Blackpool, a pool of memories come flooding into your head of previous arrivals at this mecca for dancers. These thoughts are joyous and at the same time melancholy, remembering experiences good and bad, results, friends and most importantly of all dance.
Performing at the Winter Gardens at a Dance Festival is something you can never forget. You join the floor and perform in front of peers, teachers, experts and the best dancers from all over the world, in an attempt to prove that you are the best.
The dance floor at the Winter Gardens is like a gladiatorial arena. Couples enter the space wearing costumes planned over weeks and months. This moment is a culmination of weeks and years of hard work. The boys present their partners and themselves to the audience and there are a couple of seconds to breathe deeply before the first few beats of the so familiar music from the fabulous Empress Orchestra.
AUDACITY OF PERFORMERS
It struck me how audacious one needs to be to perform. Audacity is a willingness to take bold risks. It is about bravery and courage. Everyone who walks out onto the dance floor has it. For some it takes more of their personal emotion than others. There is a definite cost to self. The best performers put their emotions on the line. Their self esteem is at risk. What if the judges don’t like them? What if the audience does not appreciate them? There are winners and losers and for those who have committed themselves emotionally, and committed their time and money to compete, the losses can feel heavy. There is a phenomenon also of depression after a win. So I feel humbled when I reflect on their courage in performing at all.
I have also been a gladiator in this environment, courageous, hopeful and proud to be a dancer. Perhaps that helps me understand the risks, the cost and the rewards. The dancers I saw at Blackpool brought tears to my eyes with their spectacular dancing and courage to perform. Awesome is word which is used too often but if being awesome is about inspiring admiration, they certainly were awesome.
The Circus at Blackpool Tower
The Circus at Blackpool Tower has to be one of the best in the world. The building and circus ring itself is beautiful. The performers again came from all over the world to show their talent. Again, this is talent honed with hours of practice. They perform sometimes three times a day, each time proving themselves to a different audience. The similarity between the dancers performing at the Winter Gardens, and the circus performers was striking. They are both gladiators entering the ring hoping to impress, achieve and survive the process with self esteem intact. The chance to affect someone emotionally is a powerful addictive stimulus. Performance needs practice and courage.
Kevin and Karen Tour 2018
The week ended with a trip to see my own family Kevin Clifton (my nephew) and Karen Clifton in their own show. It has been a roller coaster of a year for them both, much of which played out in the press. It was an honest and brave performance from them both. Imagine what it must feel like to walk out onto a stage where the whole audience probably think they know everything about you by having read about your lives and your difficulties in the newspaper. Courage is what instantly comes to mind.
The dancing was superb, a wonderful show which achieved many standing ovations. The dancing and chat was honest moving many people to show their emotions outwardly. There was great joy and some sadness. This was audaciousness beyond anything I have experienced: Fearless, bold and inspirational.
The audacity of performance: I salute and thank all those brave enough to take it on.
You are all heroes!