March 25, 2023

Accidents Waiting to Happen – Part Three – Confronting with Love … Sondra Sugai

About the Author: Suzanne Wagner
By Published On: March 25, 2023Categories: Ballet, Blog Daily

Accidents Waiting to Happen – Part Three – Confronting with Love … Sondra Sugai

I have realized that for whatever reason, my life has seems to take on the position of a path maker. So often, as I have trudged through this density, I have felt like I was walking through a jungle with a machete, cutting a path in the thick, dense undergrowth of a tropical rain forest.
From a young age, I saw ghosts, guides, and angels. And yes, they are all different. I have felt things that others never felt and over time recognized that the sensitivity that I carried was not as obvious to others as it was to me.

Each day, I walked through a world, where guides and angels spoke to me and offered up help on every level. While there were moments when I too got stuck in my own “bullshit”, more often than not, some being from the other side gave me insights and information to help me open back up again. I have never felt alone. Not ever! And I am eternally grateful for that.

I have seen so many walk through this world inside perceptual bubbles of karma, bubbles of depression, bubbles of fear, bubbles of insecurity, bubbles of rage, bubbles of beliefs, and bubbles of expectations.

I have tried to walk this earthly existence with a bubble of compassion.

Now, know that many times I have horribly failed in that intention. But over and over again, all I knew how to do was to come back to that place because it was the only purpose that made any sense.

The gift of giving my authentic heart to another always ended up giving me wonderful things back. Giving kindness in the face of competition or envy allowed my nervous system peace and showed me how others project things onto us. But when my honest intention was to do good and to help, then the chaotic energy that others threw at me literally bounced off my aura because my sincerity became a mirror and a shield.

With Mr. Hart that was extremely difficult. I tried again and again. I tried to navigate his pompous ego that was protecting a part of himself that never felt he got the acclaim he believed he deserved.

I could feel that the staff were desperately trying to protect the dancers but even with those shields, the hits coming at the dancers from all sides were extremely difficult.

It was clear to me that there was a dark force of energy that was feeding and festering in the theater and that was something that none of us had felt (to this extreme) before and everyone was in their own way trying their best to cope.
By now, I have allowed some of my story around the dreams to leak out. I had tried my best to lift up the emotional collapse that was happening in the company and while I had succeeded to a certain small extent, I doubted it was going to be enough.
I finally had a small opening with Sondra Sugai in a hallway and I tried my compassionate approach on her. It was a variation of what I had done with Denise Schultz, but I knew enough to not hug Sondra in that moment.

She was coming towards me and I was coming towards her.
I said caringly, “Sondra, I can’t imagine what you have been dealing with or going through. I want you to know that I recognize that on all levels you are doing the best you know how … and I can see how much effort this is taking. I want you to know that I realize that you are trying to be a buffer with everything going on and that I see it and appreciate the tremendous effort such a thing might require.”
But unlike Denise, she glared at me instead of softening.

Her body posture was one of defense rather than opening.
Her eyes were like daggers, and it seemed as if she believed that I was attacking her rather than trying to compliment her.
I recognized too late that expecting her to drop her guard and be real was not going to be possible. Her armor was not coming down and she had no intention to soften.

I had waited to say anything to her because she was not one of my favorite people in the world but she had always seemed to be fair with me while Bruce Marks was in charge. Now, with John Hart, she clearly felt threatened on many fronts and her own insecurity was causing her to be bitter, brutal, and bombastic.

She looked at me, uncertain what to say, not really wanting to respond at all, but knowing that she needed to. I could see in her eyes her calculating words and thinking that I was some sort of plant and that what she said to me would probably get back to Mr. Hart and that was something that felt clearly threatening to her.
I could see that the level of danger for her was higher than I anticipated. Denise and Louis operated from a stronger level of personal confidence whereas Sondra probably never had the sense of feeling as if she belonged. She was a small Asian woman with thicker, stockier legs, and she probably never got to be the dancer that she wanted and had to accept that as a fact and find her position as rehearsal directress and second in command to the Artistic Director. So, her level of insecurity was much deeper than most for being in such a position of power.

I could see that she was desperately trying to cling to her position and that it was very difficult for her to maintain decorum in that moment.
I have to add here that this engagement was a few months after the Giselle, Queen of the Willis, confrontation. I was not her favorite person at that time.
She looked at me and I could see that she was discounting my sincerity. She was defensive and pissed that I had even said anything and that I was clearly wanting a response.
She said, “What do you know, you are only a dancer interested in your own opportunities that can come your way and how to make the most out of it!”

Ouch! That stung quite a bit. But I knew she was really not talking about me but probably Mr. Hart.
I extended another olive branch while turning the other cheek, saying, “This transition has not been what any of us expected, and the demands of one Director who gave us a lot of free rein, to this new one has been challenging for the dancers to figure out how to accommodate the intense style change. Everyone is feeling off, exhausted, and under pressure. Thank you for trying. I can’t imagine what you are hearing and dealing with behind the scenes. I am trying to say, Thank you with total sincerity and with no agenda. I am just attempting to show support to what you are going through though I am sure I am in the dark about most of it. I am not trying to upset you more but just to say, in my very limited way, I feel for you, and I am trying to understand what you must be going through!”

That allowed a slight softening in her eyes and she looked away into some distant past that only she could see.
Then all she said was, “Yes, it is a very new world that we are all living in.”

And then she continued to walk past me.

I hoped that some small arrow of love and support got through that armor. I think perhaps it did. Maybe I just want to think that it mattered.

She never spoke to me about that conversation ever again. I did not see any major change in attitude or flow, but I could see that occasionally I fantasized that she was smiling more to certain dancers.
The date of the dream continues to count down and by that time many of the dancers knew of it and were asking me questions that I truly could not completely answer.

While the dream had stopped coming every night, it was still happening every once in a while.

Approximately a week before October 4th, we were to leave to fly from Salt Lake City, UT to Detroit Michigan.

And that is where my next chapter will start.

~Suzanne Wagner~

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