Last weekend I was fortunate enough to see my bestie, roomie, and all-around fabulous gal pal(ie), perform in show produced by The OnStage Dance Company. I'm going to admit that I was not expecting much when I arrived at the venue. I expected R to be great, for sure, but after years of attending college dance shows I was nervous for the caliber and duration of the evening as a whole. As I munched on my latest chocolate acquisition from Trader Joe's as the lights went down and the music started, I was met with a performance better than the one I had anticipated but still not one that blew me away. As the group danced to Peggy Lee's Fever, they were decent but not totally in sync with each other which was a bit frustrating to watch. However, they weren't bad by any means, they held our interest and we looked forward to the next act. (Side note, if you're still thinking about treats... it was a Dark Chocolate bar with Caramel and Sea Salt - do it. You won't be sorry.) Anyways, as the first act progressed, we were impressed by how quickly everything seemed to be moving, the variations between the acts, and the clean scene transitions.
It wasn't until R's group took the stage though that I was truly vested and interested in what I was watching. First off, they were IN SYNC with each other. Not only was each girl on beat, but they each possessed a sort of attitude that the music, the costume, the choreography suggested. They were *gasp* acting. I don't pretend be an authority on dance, but I know passionate acting when I see it - and this dance fell under that category. As intermission arrived, my friend L and I could not get over how much we enjoyed R's dance. We just kept saying to each other, "That was the best dance we saw in the last hour." And it got me thinking, was it truly the best dance in the act or were we biased based on the presence of a mutual close friend? I like to think that I see enough theatre and general performance events that I have an eye, ear, general understanding of what makes a performance worth seeing, but I know that my personal emotions about the parties involved definitely can help to enhance or reduce my enjoyment. So what was I experiencing? My true feelings as an audience member or The Best Friend Bias?
As we headed into the second act, I was absolutely blown away by the first piece. This company was started by several girls that I went to college with - girls who were phenomenal dancers in school. (What is it with these Brandeis kids and their companies?) I'm not sure why I doubted their ability to put together a great show, but here was proof that talent definitely improves with age. The piece was mesmerizing. But again, they were acting. There was a story. There was passion. And I came to a decision, while I was definitely effected by The BFB, I wasn't so blinded to think that I couldn't enjoy or laud a piece that did not include my best friend. I saw a range of things happening on stage - fabulous choreographers where the dancers emoted nothing, nervous girls who wouldn't remember the steps, and girls with more energy than the steps allowed. At the end of the night, the outcome was simple - when I was watching a spark on stage, there was a spark inside me. Sounds elementary, right? I suppose, but it's still nice to be able to know why you're complimenting someone at the end of the performance.
Things learned last weekend? 1. R is a fantastic performer. (Okay, I didn't newly learn that - but I was reminded.) 2. The show was worth the $10 ticket - I'd definitely check out their spring show. 3. The Best Friend Bias is a thing - we all experience it (how do you think our parents sat through all of those ballet recitals?!) but nothing can match true passion and skill. :)