I landed in Lucerne, not sure which month of the year it was or what country I was in. I knew my plane was late and I had to skip training before the rehearsals - it felt like nonsense in my borderline-obsessed mind. I couldn’t remember the last time I had slept for more than 4 hours at a time.
These last few days, I had performed in Istanbul, Venice, Italy, Phoenix, Arizona, St. Petersburg, Russia, and now, Switzerland. Most of my nights were spent on planes, waking up every hour to make sure I’d stay active. In any case, I couldn’t find sleep. I needed to be the best version of myself that I could be; there was only now and the next show to care about. I was shaking a little, I was aware I was underweight and lacked a tremendous amount of sleep, and yet I was so strong physically. I felt energized like never before. I couldn’t really analyze my performances, I could just execute them; I had been training and preparing mentally my whole life for moments like those.
The previous night in Russia, I had won this important competition with the very performance that had caused me to think I was a complete disaster and that I should have pursued a career in neuroscience instead. Today I was about to do this same performance once more for the world, on behalf of Cirque du Soleil for a TV-broadcast jubilee Gala.
Aware of my last days schedule, my artistic director wanted me to sleep before the show: that obviously never happened. When he returned to my dressing room after having earlier left me by myself, thinking I was about to nap, he found the lights on and me practicing my hand balancing. He did not blink, he simply nodded with a half-smile, meaning “whatever …” and left the room.
Among these high-heeled people with botox-frozen faces, I was this tiny acrobat waiting in my Cirque du Soleil costume, looking like I came from a different planet. I began feeling a little dizzy standing there - not stressed or anxious - but somehow lightheaded, almost outside my body. I started thinking about the two other long-haul flights I had lined up in the next four days, and I forgot where I was, again. A technician dragged me towards the stage, from which lots of familiar faces reassured me from the first row, like my family was watching over me … oh wait, they were actors I had probably seen on movies or in advertisements!
I don’t remember the performance; I do remember the applause, my final bow, and running backstage and meeting Jacques, my director who told me: "Wow, I have never seen you so relaxed, it seemed so easy …! " I agreed (?!?!)
That night I went back to my luxury suite and ate cheap chocolate from the mini-bar. I forgot to take time to be proud of myself - I may even have forgotten there was a self in there - and fell asleep after setting my wake-up call to catch the flight the next morning.
Years later (tonight) I watched that show, with a totally different headspace, with tears in the mix. Not such a bad show after all! If that sounds pretentious, I’m ok with it!