Apr 242006

I wanted to write about a million things today: tantrums, mother’s guilt, not dieting, whatever, but – I got a call from a dancer-singer-actress, and so I’ll be “auditioning” tomorrow in the evening.

She’s a member of a performance-group. They are dancers who improvise and sing. She told me about it last year, when we met at a singers workshop on improvisation. Then I thought “A group? Me in a group, are you crazy? Me in a group with dancers?” I only wanted to do my own stuff then.

I still want to make my own music, but during the last year I found myself thinking of performing again. I stopped performing in 1999 or 2000. Not entirely, mind you, we did a couple of birthday parties and such when requested. But we didn’t enjoy it. So we (that’s my husband and me) put our energy into the CDs instead. And later also into the child.

And that seemed to be right, until I found myself over-eager to sing to people at parties or to do jam sessions. And since I’ve decided to work on the things that are difficult for me, I even thought about taking acting classes. Because, I have a little problem with performing:

I can sing in front of people – no problem.
I can talk to a large audience – no problem.
I can even dance in front of people – no problem.
But I can’t do two of these things together. Let alone all three.

When I’m singing in front of a band, there’s no problem with the singing, but I can’t talk to the audience. I’ll sing like crazy, then smile and say a hushed and very soft “thank you”, and then – smile. I’m even able to make a mess of the jazz musician’s traditional “The last song was blablabla, and the next will be blablabla.”
You have to understand, the problem is not the talking. I’ve presented a paper in front of hundreds of people at a conference. With a microphone. Audible, understandable, and well received (until somebody dissed me out of the conference publication, that is). But I can’t talk, when I’m the singer.

The same goes for singing and moving. I have been to a lot of Rhiannon‘s workshop and there you’re always doing things like sing and move at the same time. Improvising. In singing, the improvisation comes quite natural for me. Moving’s a little harder, but possible. But an aquaintance once joked that the minute I was singing, I moved like my feet were nailed to the floor.

Hm. I’ve been working on it. In our late Brazilian Band I was trying to sing, play percussion, and dance samba at the same time. I actually can do it, but the percussion might be a little off time. And somehow it never made the same impression a couple of half-naked Brazilian dancers would have made.

Last summer I visited a workshop for singers on performance. I thought, there I’d learn how to present myself on stage. The workshop was marvellous. I feel much more confident now, because: a) Now I know that I’m not a beginner anymore. (Takes a while for some of us, being a singing teacher could have been a clue.) b) I’m not supposed to move around on stage like a bumblebee, because obviously my respiration type is solar.

This is one of those esoteric theories that I thought to be completely bonkers, but sadly it works. I’m having a couple of singing students, I found almost impossible to teach until I found out that they are breathing different than me. Anyway, a solar type is supposed to do only one thing at a time, and is comfortable only in rest. So I’m doing fine on stage when I’m only standing there and singing. I’m even finding that some artists get away with doing no announcements or only a few. I’m fine with that.

But, finally having the official “you don’t have to move on stage or do anything other than sing”-badge, left me with the freedom to explore this moving-and-singing-at-the-same-time thing too. And so I’m off to go to a rehearsal for an improvisation group of dancers.

So, what’s the most important thing to do for tomorrow?
Right, paint my toenails. And get a babysitter of course. And give myself a singing lesson, and improvise a little. And get hysterical. And find out, where I have to go. But first the nail polish.

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