It's my last blog post of the semester and we've just closed a successful and meaningful run of Into the Woods.
I cannot underscore enough the magnitude of the opportunities I have been presented with this semester, from narrating the piece of the New Juilliard Ensemble's world premiere of Filipino composer Josefino Chino Toledo’s Agos in October to playing Little Red Riding Hood and working with Sarna Lapine and Fred Lassen in Into the Woods. I feel artistically full and filled with gratitude.
When things go very well, like they have this semester, it's important to reflect upon the specific things I've done that worked in these artistic undertakings. It is important because it gives me perspective on the best practices to take forward or deepen in the future.
- Begin early—for both Agos and Into the Woods, I began working on them as soon as the pieces or the text/libretto became available. This is because, as Sarna Lapine mentioned in our Juilliard Journal interview, “there is no substitute for time.” I want time to dream about the things I am working on, rather than muscle my way through them or rely on adrenaline.
- Spend time with it—for both projects, I carved out times in the week or month that I would return and reinvest in them as the actual rehearsals approached. And even when the rehearsals were ongoing, I still reviewed them to gain a deeper understanding or mastery of the text.
- Drill—both Agos and Into the Woods posed musical demands that required me to drill and review and practice to get them to a level where they appeared spontaneous or where I am no longer thinking about how to do them and focus instead on telling the story.
- Leave room for creativity—I was told that my level of discipline and work ethic is commendable. However, it was such that I still left room for creativity. The combination of technical rigor and artistic freedom can lead to work that is consistent yet surprising.
- Understand that one is part of a bigger whole—when making choices, I also consider what is happening around me because there is a bigger story being told beyond my individual work.
- Create a foundation—it is important to begin early and be patient in laying the groundwork for the character for it to become malleable and flexible yet grounded in the core of the meaning and objective of a piece. This requires a more complex artistic process than focusing on the results.
- Invest in people—I'm very lucky to have worked with artists who are not only hardworking and talented, but also very good human beings. One of my greatest hopes in my life post-Juilliard is for my life to be nourished by healthy relationships with exceptional human beings and artists. I've met a lot of them at Juilliard—I've met a lot of new ones this semester and I hope to work with them again in the future.
I thank all my teachers who are committed to facilitating our growth. It has been a humbling experience to understand what it means to renew my understanding of the process even though at times I already consider myself “advanced” or “accomplished.” It is good to be reminded that we all need to start from scratch every now and then.
Regina De Vera
Quezon City, Philippines