While performers share the combined jitters and excitement of opening night, it seems there is no such thing as a common ritual to prepare for the first show. What calms one’s nerves does nothing to ease another’s, say the local arts leaders who reveal their pre-performance routines here.
Before dancing in Alberta Ballet’s Great Masterpieces of the 20th Century (Sept. 21–22), Mariko Kondo (pictured above) will likely be found backstage, with a gift in hand. “If I have a dancing partner I usually get him a gift, sometimes chocolate or beer,” Kondo says. “Just something little to say, ‘Thank you for being my partner.’” She’ll also spray on the same French perfume, Lanvin, after a plate of pasta or rice and, if there’s time for it, napping.
On the evening of his first performance with Pro Coro Canada, new artistic director and principal conductor Michael Zaugg (pictured above) will enter the Winspear Centre before concert-goers arrive. “I’ll walk across the stage, stand where I’ll be performing and visualize what the show will be like,” Zaugg says. And while he ignores superstitions (“Performing is my profession, so I can’t get caught up thinking I stepped on the wrong foot.”) Zaugg does have one regular habit: He always brushes his teeth before stepping on stage.
Since founding the Alberta Baroque Ensemble in 1980, artistic director Paul Schieman has refined his routine for the orchestra’s afternoon shows, down to the peanut butter and jelly he spreads on toast and eats with three scrambled eggs for breakfast. Schieman always wears a tuxedo with cufflinks his father gave him. Finally, he finds a quiet spot in his home and thinks about the upcoming performance. “I often listen to country music to relax,” he says.