What makes you sweat?

There is a gorgeous photo in the August 27 issue of the New Yorker of two graceful ballerinas posed evocatively in a mysterious setting of stage and body of water and gray sky (a painted scrim, yet a compelling visual backdrop in the photo). The photo is an advertisement for the New York City Ballet that opens its new season on September 18. The ad proudly proclaims “#SWEATBEAUTY” as if we need to be reminded that Ballet may be gorgeous, thrilling, dangerous, and ethereal, but it is also hard sweaty work to train one’s body to do the hard work while appearing effortlessly beautiful.

Thinking about the physicality of Ballet made me think about Sports. In Sports, athletes train hard to perform at their peak abilities with the goal of winning. #SWEATWIN you might say. Some of my young readers may not remember the great hockey player, Wayne Gretzky, who was described as Balletic as well as Athletic. Watching him play was amazing as it looked like he was always in position to shoot the
puck and score. He talked about visualizing where the puck would be, not looking at where the puck was. Anticipating correctly what his teammates and opponents would do is what set the Great Gretzky above his peers. He made it look easy, but we knew that it was sweaty.

Ballerinas sweat in the service of Beauty. Athletes sweat in the service of the score.

But there is another difference. Ballerinas sweat in the service of a choreographer’s vision of Beauty. Although many dancers become choreographers, they are trained to learn the steps that others have assembled, to internalize the story and emotion of the choreography, to execute those moves perfectly, and through this movement and music, to communicate the story line to the audience/the fans.

Athletes from team sports must learn the “plays” developed by the coaches. Their opponents learn their own plays, including how to stop the other team’s plays. Where choreographers can plan an entire Ballet performance, team sports athletes must be able to change the play to fit the situation, and not be so predictable that their opponents can anticipate what comes next. The athletes who seem to be the
most successful are able to anticipate what will happen next. These top performing athletes are the smartest and most strategic players. NE Patriots quarterback Tom Brady may have achieved his longevity and his Super Bowl rings with his brain, perhaps more than with his quick-release throws. Both Ballerinas and Athletes must have a good memory and great timing.

How does this hard work, both physical and mental, apply to what we do as architects and interior designers? We act as both choreographer and coach, creating the plans for the spaces that fit the needs and wants and budgets and schedules of our clients. The builders and artisans are the “athletes” who execute our “plays.” Most of our projects are renovations, so we must also be strategic and try to anticipate what can go wrong, what the buildings may be hiding that we cannot see (which is pretty much impossible some of the time), what material has just sky-rocketed in price or is unavailable in our required timeframe. We must be willing and able to alter the original choreography, when
circumstances prevent the project from going according to plan.

If you have a project, whether for improving your office, your store, your restaurant, your home, your church, mosque or synagogue, your college/university or daycare center, please call us. Let us sweat a little for you!​

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