Happy 25th Birthday to the show I always desired to be apart of from the moment I saw it
CHICAGO – It changed my life forever
I had some weird resistance to seeing some of my cast mates post photo’s of the show it it’s celebration… I was like “What is that? What did I create and receive out of that that I didn’t acknowledge…?” so I looked up some photo’s… which might have opened the box… haha
THAT was my ultimate dream show
The Fosse moves – re-choreographed by Ann Reinking, the looks, the lighting, the energy, the music, the live orchestra, the minimalistic set, the all black dressing of the cast. I could go on…
The style of Bob Fosse, who I had thoroughly studied his work of, first at the Rotterdam Dance Academy and then snatched 5 scholarships for to study more and learn from the 1rst generation of Fosse dancers in NYC, 2008.
So…I desired to create a Fosse experience for me…
‘The Broadway production coming to The Netherlands again’
“OMG! I have to be in this”
In 2009 I got on as ‘swing’, later also as ‘Dance Captain’ and I was so eager to prove that I could do it well… makes me reflect on how different I was and what this experience brought me, prior to working with some Access Tools….
It gave me LIFE and it was a DREAM come through
Looking at the pre-show Press photoshoot I can almost see everything in my own eyes: the wonder, the freight, the excitement, the demons of control, the confusion of being so unsure what ‘my place’ in this world and theatre was and the hope of this being a great adventure that would become what I hoped it would be… which was all one big fucking blurry question mark haha.
SO many unexpected gifts during the tour of Chicago… to name a few:
– The love for working with a dedicated and cast and crew that all loved the show so much. You could simply feel it. Everyone desired to do this show – and some were also super terrified to do it as the expectations were high.
– The rocky exploration and challenge of being the dance supervisor, navigating the artistic and management side of running a theatre show, working with a strong cast, understudies, traveling, directing show changes and so on – and what I was/am actually capable of. Thank you Gregory Butler for seeing me and trusting me.
– Developing my first leadership and soft coaching skills, patience, counting to 10 before speaking, dealing with people and their points of view, their insecurities, their injuries, their empathic abilities – as a lot of artists are super empathic, delivering the ‘shit-sandwich’ by giving notes to the cast and crew… all the things of working with people and within the magic of this show.
– The unforseen bomb that changed my life forever march 10th 2010 called an HIV infection – In the middle of the tour, which I mostly kept entirely to myself and only shared with the ever so kind Company Manager, my DC assistant and one girl in the cast – even though I wanted to scream it off the rooftops so people would not get too close to me. It imploded into me and changed my course in life which is still unraveling.
– The warm bath of working with this dedicated cast and crew while I was secretly going my own ‘dark night of the soul’, quietly debating every single day for the first couple of month, whether I still wanted to live or just die and get this over with. Living with the fear and the lie that I could hurt or kill someone by touching them, getting close to them, let alone closely partner-dance with them was almost unbearable… feeling guilty after every show of not daring to tell the cast and crew of this whirlwind, eventually didn’t seem relevant at all… It softened up as I just went along and I still run into parts and pieces of that sometimes… luckily I have Access Tools 🙂
When I look at the cast photo I remember most of the cast was incredibly sensitive and intuitive. ‘Animal cast’. Most of them knew that something was UP, as I probably had pulled all the demons I could find after the diagnosis into my own head that even made my eyes get dark sometimes and still pushed through to do my work with the best tools I had available, with all respect for the show and the rest of the cast, receiving a warm hug out of nowhere more often than I expected. They were all an invitation to me to keep going, and so was this show. Apparently I could be that and go though this in that ‘Chicago energy’ and with these people around me. It was like a family for that tour. Playful, fun and respectful, even though I might have pushed many buttons, lol. It’s a ‘choice creates’ learning experience.
– The instant healing that the music, dance, play, harmony, touch and the show magic every night created for me – and beyond me: the joy of creating with the audience, bringing lightness into their world while enjoying what I did, still managed to melt a lot of the severe stress and hurdles of what had become my daily life in side my head. Eventually I even had moments of peace and joy again stage.
– Opening up to communicating with my body in different way, even though I had no clue yet what that would be like, as I was more used to being judgmental and ‘fixing’ with it than being grateful for it… Even though I was confused a lot of times, the diagnoses had woken me up. I started to listen, relax into it more intuitively, be more gentle with it even though I judged myself and it a lot for getting HIV, it was still performing so well. Also thát was confusing, yet it was weirdly inspiring and intriguing what my body could do, even when I was psyched out, suppressed and depressed and unsure of what the future would hold.
– Knowing that life is All That Jazz – it includes everything, and what is even real…? So Razzle Dazzle them, LOL
So, there we go. Some of the unwrapped gifts now out of the box.
Living a magical experience provided by the universe. I was not quite acknowledging myself the co-conductor yet, although it was dawning on me. Apparently I required something BIG to happen. And the universe had my back.
I often say “I would do things so different now” and I would not be able to say that without having this experience – and one was probably the most inspiring of all the ones I had nothing in theatre.
Maybe not the most average life change of someone working on Chicago the musical – and boy, reflecting writing this out now makes me acknowledge the magic of this whole tour with this amazing show, the energy that it invites and what it creates in the world.
Chicago, and Chicago creatives, cast, crew, you gave me so much without probably even realizing that you did.
I hope you will have many more birthdays and change more lives by living ❤️✨
Photo’s by Annemieke van der Togt & Rudy Hellewegen