The Meltdown

meltdown

Yesterday a friend posted on FB “Are you crying? There’s no crying! There’s no crying in flamenco!” (a throwback to A League of Their Own, in case you didn’t catch that). Man, were those prophetic words.

Monday night I ran through my dance in front of my friends just fine, even though I was a little unsteady. Felt better getting all the way through, though, so I thought I’d be fine in last night’s rehearsal with the musicians. I felt OK during the day leading up to it, but on the way to the venue, my stomach started to turn. I tried to compose myself and I thought I had it all under control. Until I stepped on stage.

I started OK. Not strong, but OK. As I made my way through, my legs felt weak and unsure, and I fell out of compas a few times. When I got to my escobilla, it all fell apart. I felt that awful wave of doom settle in my chest and I just stood there and tried to breathe. Then came the tears. And the mild hyperventilating. I was a mess.

Oh, and by the way, my iPhone was propped up on a piano a few feet away, capturing it all on video … great. At least it provided a compelling photo for this post.

I’ve never, ever had this happen in rehearsal, not even as a first-time soloist. I’m usually relatively calm and experience only normal nerves like everyone else. WTF?

Thank God I was working with the coolest, most supportive people ever. My breakdown killed at least 10 minutes of our rehearsal time (which made me feel like a total a-hole), but Rina, Ana the singer, and Kai the guitarist, took the time to reassure me and offer advice; apparently every performer experiences some degree of anxiety at some point. My classmates were also supportive, so I collected many hugs and kind words — which was so nice and much appreciated, but also just made me cry more for being such a basket case.

Toward the the end of rehearsal, I made another somewhat successful attempt at getting through my solo. I wobbled and lost compas, but I kept going and finished. After what I had been through earlier, I was satisfied with this.

I called my man when I got home and between heaving sobs retold the story of my legendary meltdown, and how I felt SO stupid for going off like this in front of everybody. He was able to talk me off the ledge and offer some insight as to why I may have cracked. In a nutshell, I never crack. Ever. I keep my cool most of the time, even when I’m stressed, sad, pissed off, worried, whatever. It all stays inside. Throw the pressure to perform well on top of that and I’m a bomb with a short fuse. It took very little to set me off last night.

I’ll be OK. I’m still a little rattled, but I’ve got rehearsal with the other ladies tonight, and a day off from work tomorrow to practice some more and then relax.

Have any of you ever gone through something like this in rehearsal or performance? How did you deal?

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