I was performing at a village not far from Jerusalem, in Ramat Raziel, where I lived. It was a strange performance, trapeze combined with Butoh dance. Quite esoteric… A God-forsaken performance in a God-forsaken place, and on top of all that, it was the summer of the 1998 Mondial, and this story is about how that Mondial changed my life.
It was 1998, with no social media; we advertised the show with a pickup truck, a megaphone, and some cheap flyers we printed with money we did not have. This may be the time in the story to introduce the founder of the Museum of the screw, Raffael Lomas. At least at the time, this was the name of the place.
Raffael Designed the lighting for the show and operated it during that three months season of the summer of 1998. He also went with the pickup truck through Jerusalem and made publicity for it, convincing people one by one that it was worth their while to get out of the city and come see the show. He made quite a good job of it.
During these three months of performances, the first month was ok; we had about ten-twenty people in the audience for every Performance. Then the Mondial started, and sometimes no one came; most days, though, there were one or two people in the audience. We considered ourselves lucky. But this went on for a month.
The Performance was physically demanding; it included me coming out of the ground, which meant waiting underneath sand without moving, while the audience came in. It sometimes took a while. I had a straw to breathe with. Then, a dance naked in the sand followed by a trapeze act and a descent into water for a final sequence. On nights when there was one person in the audience, it demanded a lot, mentally and emotionally as well as physically.
Not only was I disappointed that no one came, but I also had no power to perform, mostly mentally and emotionally distraught. One day I complained to Raffael that no one was coming; we might as well cancel the whole month of shows.
He gave me a strange look and said, we cannot cancel. If there is but one person in the audience that took the trouble to get out of town to see the show, it’s our responsibility to perform, and you, my dear, have to find the power within you to give your best performance, even if it’s only for one person.
In 1998, I was a young performer with a lot still in front of me. I’ve been performing on the trapeze since a few years earlier, but never with a solo performance like this that demanded so much of me. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
That Performance was entitled “For life and for death,” and it marked the beginning of my exploration into the many layers of Optimal Performance. It meant I had to be ready, no matter the circumstances. It meant I had to prepare myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for any eventuality. That performance and the 1998 Mondial, the lesson it taught me was never forgotten. In fact it marked the next 24 years of my professional career.
Optimal Performance is then, in this new definition, the art, and science of being ready. Ready to perform at your best whenever you are required to do so. Ready to be your best for your mission in life, whatever it may be, and whenever. Because if there is one person in the audience, you must be your best and give your all. You never know what that person will take from that encounter.
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