The soft girl drifted away from the ballet and felt the air fall around her like silk. It was a wonderful twenty-four hours, one of the rare occasions that my husband and I leave our children in the capable hands of adults other than us, and go on an adventure. How lovely it was to feel ourselves again.
I could tell you about the day, but the day itself was unremarkable. What was remarkable was the silk air, though, and so I’ll tell you about that part because it was all the lovely things.
The soft girl, for those of you who are wondering, is me— the deeper version of me that holds my intuition, my connection to nature, and most importantly…my ability to feel life and love at a level I’ve never known before. The soft girl is the part of me I choose.
Last night we went to see the dark version of the ballet Swan Lake, where the White Swan meets her Black Swan rival, and all sorts of horrible shenanigans ensue. I smiled as it occurred to me: the White Swan feels so much like the soft girl. I cried a little, too, as I watched—for all the grace, all the joy, all love she brought to the stage.
But as I watched the darkness ooze from the black swan as she danced, her shoulders undulating with sexuality and sass…I realised that she lives within me, too. I wondered about the dark swan that lives inside of all of us, the one who does not have permissionto exist in polite and proper society. I thought of that repression of ‘darkness’ within, and what it means to be human and functioning within certain limits, and somehow the ballet became a little deeper and more wonderful than it already was.
For a moment, last night, I was a little girl again, at the ballet for the very first time and feeling every bit the elegant lady I’d always dreamed I might be one day. I was a woman with silk air floating about her. And I really do think I could use a bit more of that sort of wonderful in my life.
Let’s talk about magic. The type that swirls around us human folk without us even knowing, without us even trying. The kind of magic I’m talking about is the kind that arises from our natural human energies and the way those energies interact with those around us.
Many years ago— before I became someone’s wife and someone’s Mummy—my thing was acting. There were so many aspects to treading the boards that I loved. Embodying a character essentially gave me permission to do a whole bunch of fun things the real me would never get away with in real life. I mean. How’s that for awesome?
Those years were some of the most wonderful of my life, where I got to unleash my creative essence on the world and have a whole lot of fun along the way. Every show was different. Every character I played: different, each with their own unique personality trying to make its way into the world, through me.
One thing was always the same, though. The backstage buzz. The energy. Every night before the curtains parted, the cast and crew would stand in the wings with wide eyes and vibrating hair—visible signs of the excited, nervous energy that lived within and around us.
This energy was always there, and it was unmistakable. And though none of us could put our finger on how it was made, or where it came from within our bodies, there would not be an actor out there who could deny its magic. To this day I’m in awe of its power, and the potential it always poured into the performance to come.
But even though the energy of stage actors themselves is otherworldly and brilliant, perhaps the most baffling and awe-inspiring energy transfer is that between the audience and the actors. More specifically, how the energy of the audience, as a collective, influences the energy of the performance.
A ‘good’ or ‘bad’ audience can change a show entirely. A ‘good’ audience has the ability to lift a performance. A ‘bad’ audience has the ability to kill it. Human energy, cause and effect. Life transferred from one group to another, each affecting the other in ways the rational mind can’t even come close to understanding.
So. For those actors, musicians, live performers out there who might be wondering…you’re not alone if you’ve felt it. I’ve felt it, and many performers I know have felt it, too.
As for those of us who are, at one time or another, members of an audience—look around. Are people smiling as the show goes on? Or are they just a bit ho-hum about the whole shebang? Because If they’re a bit ho-hum…chances are the actors are backstage, wondering where all the laughs have gone and disappointed not to have the chance to feed off the positive energy of a ‘good’ audience.
My advice to any theatre, dance, or live music lovers out there would be this: if you’re unlucky enough to see a show on a ‘bad’ audience night…go see it again. I can guarantee you, it will be a different show next time around. A better one. And all thanks to that mysterious universal thing: human energy. Magic. Don’t you think?