We are Family

By Nicholette Routhier

I’ll begin with a glimpse into a recent rehearsal: Hannah said, “Nico, the look on your face after you fart is precious. Someone should take a picture.” Juliana immediately responded, “Oh, I did!”

Full disclosure: I fart in rehearsal more often than I’d like to admit, but, apparently, every time I do it, I look like this: 

So it can’t be that bad, right?

My ensemble members generally don’t mind my occasional tooting. In fact, some even say they like the smell. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not the only one who lets ‘em rip! With the tumbling, flipping, and contorting we do with our bodies, we’re all doomed to squeak them out on occasion. It comes with the territory.

The reason why I share this is to let you in on a little secret: we UpLifters are uber human – we laugh, we cry, and yes, we even fart, and through it all, we love one another like family because, in our hearts (and our farts!), we are family. Our trust, love, and friendship run deep, and these qualities translate to the work we perform onstage. As performing artist Bay Bryan said after seeing our performance of "Terra Incognita"this summer, “Vulnerability flows throughout this highly energetic and at-times poignant performance, which is a testament to not only the choreography, but also to the talents of each individual and the talents of the collective as a whole…”

Our rehearsals are infused with passion for the theatre we create. I love this video appropriately called “Happy Dance." In it, you get a glimpse into one of the ways we express excitement and enthusiasm for new ideas. When we are struck with something powerful, it is not unusual for one of us to shout, clap, well-up with tears, or even do a “happy dance.” We honor our creative geniuses with deep appreciation and celebration.

As you can imagine, our rehearsals are not all fun and farts. Most of the time, they are quite intense – we work hard, train hard, and focus our creative energy for hours on end. At times, this builds a kind of pressure that eventually needs to be released. Sometimes we channel it into even more fiercely  physical work, sometimes we yell, sometimes we drop into deep conversations, and sometimes, we dance.

I love this video of Alyssa, Hannah and Moses in rehearsal because it perfectly represents the scope of our process in a brief, yet specific moment. Before you watch it, please allow me to give you a bit of context. In the beginning, you will see Alyssa and Hannah attempting a new skill. Alyssa is harnessed into a “spotting belt” and Moses is “spotting” on a rope attached to the harness. Hannah and Alyssa attempt the skill several times (Spoiler alert: They don’t achieve it.) They give the most common reasons for struggling with a skill (i.e. the clothes are in the way, someone is tired, etc.) Then they decide to let it go for the day. That’s when the magic happens. (You’ll have to watch to see what I mean! Trust me – it’s worth it!) What I love about this part of the video is that my ensemble members are as focused when they play as they are when they work. That’s the key - we flow between work and play with seamless precision. You might even say we’re professionals!

In the end, we’re people bonded together by a collective love, and through that love, we’ve uncovered a friendship like no other. Family. Truly. And you know what they say about families that fart together…

… make great art together!

Photo and video credits: Hannah Gaff, Juliana Frick, and Dan Norman