Endings on Opening Night

Life isn’t “black and white.” There are all these shades of grey—and so many colors—that create beauty in it all.

They’re never static, either. The shades and colors change all the time.  

Every day, I’m feeling that challenge of being fluid, accepting and knowing that nothing will ever stay the same. Things are always changing, even with work that might seem like it’s just the same thing done over and over again. 

Think about a Broadway musical. Some of these shows run for decades, often with the same cast. And they have to perform the same show, the same lines, the same choreography night after night after night.

I’ve spent my fair share of time conceptualizing and choreographing stage shows. I’ve spent hours and hours creating this piece of moving art that will be danced and experienced night after night, week after week. 

Every opening night is filled with excitement. All the performers, crew, and creative team has worked so hard. Yet, in the midst of it all, as each dancer takes the stage on that first evening, I’m painfully aware that opening night is the beginning of an end.

Technically, the show will be the same night after night. The movements and choreography will be exactly the same as the night before. The stage, costumes, and cast will all be the same.   

Yet, because we are living, breathing humans, each night is totally different. 

The breath behind each movement makes each show a new one. The musicians play the same notes, but the life behind them changes day after day, making the exchange between the dancers and the musicians seem improvised even when it is not. This is the joy and the thrill of live art!

There’s also a sense of impermanence. As the run continues, the costumes look a little more worn out. The stage becomes a bit more worn, and the dancers… well, we’re getting older every day. So, even as we settle into our roles, get stronger, and more experienced, there’s a sense of melancholy as the nights go on. The show is alive and dying at the same time.

So, while working on the production I’m always aware of the end. It might sound sad, but in every end, there is a beginning. And in that new beginning there is another end… and another beginning. This cycle of creation is what keeps us going as artists. Therefore the birth of one aspect of the show is also the end of another part of the production as well. 

On closing night, we feel so accomplished and triumphant, along with sensing that a somber undertone of the finality. We all know this day will come. Somehow, in the process of living in the moment, we can move together in knowing not only that one day it will end, but also that change is inevitable.

And that in each ending is, of course the beginning of something new. 

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