My teammates are amazing performers.
Flipping off mini-trampolines and tossing the basketball from one another with a dunk completing the series is not an easy thing to master. It requires exquisite timing, concentration and quick reflexes.
I have had the pleasure of experiencing a profound connection with my teammates, our audience and the joy that flows when we deliver grand displays of excellence. When you enter that blissful space, time slows down and a calm settles upon you and you know that you know that you know that everything’s gonna be alright.
I have to speak in these exalted terms and still I find they are inadequate to express what is truly inexpressible in words. Creating these kinds of majestic connections is what has kept me performing for the last 30+ years. Figuring out themes for shows, mixing music and booking gigs is mostly what I do now and it’s what I did for our most recent ACRODUNK show.
My teammates had not performed together in some time but they have performed together in hundreds of shows over the years and all 5 of them reported that rehearsal went well. It was a 5-1/2 minute halftime performance for a sold out crowd at an ESPN televised college basketball game. I began salivating as I typed the previous sentence because I’d like for every performance we do to be in front of thousands of excited fans of the game and millions more viewing from a screen.
The performance was in Texas and I was in California so I found myself watching the clock and guessing when they would likely be performing and being eager to find out how well the show went. My teammates were very familiar with the dunk elements in the show but one of the transitional elements was new and a bit risky in terms of people “getting it”. I could hardly wait to find out how that part of the show was received.
Greg, who provides leadership in my absence and even when I’m present called me with a report. “I am so disappointed” were his first words. He then went on to provide details of how many dunks were missed, many of them consecutively, and how one of the audience members yelled at them as they were heading backstage saying they need to practice more.
I’ve experienced being on the court and watching a show unravel right before my very eyes. Thankfully it’s rare but that doesn’t make the disbelief and heartache any less painful.
Our shows are designed with inspiration in mind. The idea of creating an experience so amazing that those viewing our shows are inspired to believe that they too can concoct and deliver remarkable and moving expressions of themselves doing what they do is at the foundation of every performance.
Being told by an audience member to go practice is coming face to face with the stark reality that we failed in our mission.
I immediately reached out to our client but decided to text him since the game was still going on. I was careful about what I said because I’d been where Greg was at and his telling of the story came through the lens of falling so terribly short of the results we expect. In essence, the client may have thought things weren’t so bad after all and I didn’t want to give him a reason to change his mind. After all, I’ve experienced shows we’d give a C but that the client would grade an A.
The main message of my text to him was that we have a standard and we did not meet it, and that I would reach out to him that following Monday.
In our Monday conversation, he expressed his disappointment and the disappointment of some of his superiors. He said he defended us to his colleagues by pointing out that every other show we’ve performed there has been entertaining and worth the investment. I offered to make it right and suggested a reduction in the performance fee which he agreed would give him something to point to when it came time to consider us for any future performances there.
He earnestly thanked me for not just sending the text but for also sending it so soon after the performance. As much as I wished I didn’t have to reach out to him there really was no other option. Just like our performance mission is to inspire excellence within our audiences, I’d like to think that my interaction with our client inspired him to be as transparent and forthcoming as I was the next time he falls short carrying out a mission of his.
I remain grateful!