Now semi-retired, I often look back at the many venues that I’ve had the pleasure to perform in; from a professional NFL football game, to an Elizabethan outdoor arena, to an intimate blackbox theater in New York. In each of those experiences, very vastly different, my intention was the same.
My intention was to go to the edge, to take risks, to throw caution to the wind, to be unapologetically vulnerable for my audiences.
When teaching, I often ask my students, “Did you take a risk? Did you go to the edge? Where you playing it safe?”
And in their young minds, they don’t know. They’re not quite understanding.
“Well what does it mean, Mr. Willie, to go to the edge? What does it mean to throw caution to the wind?”
So I often use my analogy of being at an amusement park.
I love rollercoasters. Rollercoasters are one of my favorite rides at an amusement park. And the anticipation of standing in line, waiting to ride the fastest and biggest rollercoaster in the park fills me with adrenaline.
Very much so like when you’re standing backstage waiting for that curtain to go up. I often say, when you’re standing behind that curtain and you hear the words “Lights… Sound… Go.”
Very much like when that rollercoaster starts that first climb, you’re like, “Wow… What am I in store for? I’ve seen the rollercoaster from the ground but now that I’m experiencing the rollercoaster first hand, I’m able to feel the drops and the corkscrews and the loops.”
Very much like what we should do as dancers. We should take the audience on that emotional rollercoaster, the highs and the lows.