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BWW Blog: Letting Go

How my family’s continuous support has affected my performance training.

BWW Blog: Letting Go

My freshman year of high school, my mother and I got into a huge argument the night of a choir concert. I was dropped at school mid-fight, rolled my eyes, slammed the car door, turned on my heels, and walked away from my mom's car. As I took the stage that evening, I looked for my family as usual, but for the first time not knowing if my mom was there for me. After a frantic scan of the room, I saw her. She gave me the quintessential "I'm really angry at you right now but here I am" smirk, but she was there. As my attention adjusted to my director, I let out a breath I did not know I was holding in.

My family being in the audience "no matter what" has been a constant in my life. Before she passed, my grandmother would drive three and a half hours from Buffalo to Cleveland for a thirty-minute performance and quick lunch, only to drive home that night to be ready for work the next morning. My Aunt Laurie was always there with a big hug and kiss after every show, with a slew of family members around her armed with flowers and congratulations. This never-ending support made it such that to this day I know, no matter what, my family will be there for me, a comfort many do not have. But it also came with a lot of self-imposed pressure. I wanted to be perfect so the long drive or $10 bouquet was viewed as "worth it" by my people.

This longing for perfection travelled into the classroom. During the second part of high school and into the beginning of college, as I began working privately with an acting and voice coach and taking smaller dance classes, it seemed like every class I took ended with instruction to "let go" and discover my full potential. It took me until this past semester to begin to do that. Suddenly, no family member had driven hours to watch me dance. The bouquets I felt I had to earn were non-existent. The performance didn't have to be perfect because we could film it again. Though Covid-19 brought a lot of restrictions, I found a new freedom when performing. I finally learned how to breathe while dancing, how to transform choreography to my unique body instead of copying the teacher's movement, how to live in my true moment while acting instead of thinking about the audience's reaction while reciting a monologue. This payed off. Somehow, I've discovered even more joy in performance, a feat I thought was impossible.

As we move into a new semester, I am excited to let go even more. My voice is going to crack, my turns will wobble, and I may make a fool out of myself, but the recent freedom I've found in has become a form of therapy, an escape from personal and worldly stress. Thanks for something, Covid.

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From This Author Student Blogger: Sabrina Duke