After finding out that I scored a role as a super people kept asking me, “So, how are rehearsals going?”
They were universally shocked to find out that they, in fact, weren’t going!
Our first rehearsal didn’t occur until eight days before opening night.
I guess that’s kind of shocking, especially for those who know that the shows I generally participate it involve a couple months of regular rehearsals. But…
The other thing that people don’t seem to get (aside from my dance friends) is that, seriously guys, I’m not actually dancing here.
I got a lot of, “Oh, you’re being so modest about this! Don’t hide your light under a bushel!” Just goes to show how little people understand of the tremendous talent and work that goes into being a professional dancer if they think I’ve joined a major company on a whim!
Of course, I appreciate the enthusiasm of said friends, even if it is a bit misplaced. But seriously guys, I’m really just animated scenery here.
Not to say that there isn’t a degree of professionalism and effort involved here (more opining on that to come!). There is! But there are no steps to learn. It’s really just cues and a few general stage directions and such.
Which brings me to…
What actually goes on in a super rehearsal?
Well, I don’t know the general pattern of things, but I can tell you my experience.
For this first post I’ll focus on what happened in the studio.
We had three rehearsals scheduled in the studio, three days in a row for about two hours each.
The first day of rehearsals involved just the supers (male and female). We reported to the big studio where the choreographer and one of the ballet mistresses awaited us. Most of the time involved us watching bits of video of another company’s performance of this production. He showed us the parts of the performance where the supers are involved in with occasional breaks to block things out a bit. It was cool to finally come together and see what we were going to do, but it was really just a talk-through. I can’t say that I left feeling like I had a good idea what to do, though in retrospect I don’t think we were really supposed to. I’d phrase it as more of an orientation to the ballet. Most of what we do is in reaction to the other things happening on stage, so hard to really get a sense of it when it’s just us.
Which brings us to… day 2. In which we rehearsed Act III. With the company. Eek!
For the women this meant harem scene. We’re on stage for the opening of the third act and spend a good amount of time lounging in the background. We started (as would make sense) with the opening tableau. The choreographer placed us and I get to pretend to be reading the palm of one of the dancing harem members (there are six harem supers and six harem dancers, along with the super-special harem newbie, Gulnara). At this point I’m wondering what the heck the dancers think of us. Are we necessary evils? Annoyances? Welcomed new faces? I still have no idea, but the dancer whose palm I get to “read” the first rehearsal was ever so gracious, introducing herself (while I pretended to not know who she is despite having pored over more than my share of playbills in the last few years as a regular subscriber) and asking if I had ever been a super before and gently giving me cues for when to move. I was incredibly grateful for her kindness. The rest of rehearsal was a bit of a blur and involved lots of shouted cues and reprimands, but it was really neat to be there with the company and see what we had talked about the day before come into context.
Day 3 was very similar to day 2, except this time we were running Act I in which we are people in the marketplace – the men generally try to sell things and the ladies wander around support them. It’s mostly a lot of lurking and trying to learn where there are big moments to get out of the way, but we did get to cut loose towards the end of the act when the pirates loot us and we run around acting distraught.
I have to say that after three days of rehearsals I was expecting to feel pretty assured of what we were going to do, but… no, I really didn’t. On top of that, while I knew that our rehearsals were moving to the theatre, I had no idea what to expect there! Someone handed us backstage passes, but didn’t tell us where to go or what to do when we got there, so for all this prep I still felt very unsure of what to expect (as did most of the other super noobs), but we ventured forward assuming that we’d get guidance when needed.
Next up… supers rehearsing in tha house!