The dance company I perform with just had a couple performances of our original production last weekend, with a couple more this weekend. In light of that, I thought I’d better write an artistic essay about the magic that is live theatre.
One hour to curtain
A quick meal. Enough for my stomach to feel temporarily satiated, not so much that I feel groggy from overeating. Buzzing in the air as we all cover our faces in foundation and eye shadow, and glue on eyelashes, and paint on lipstick. It’s opening night. Countless hours of work have gone into the next hour and a half. It’s been a long journey. We’re ready.
Ten minutes to curtain
My stomach is turning. There’s that combination of excitement and terror. I’m fidgeting, warming up, stretching, focusing, venting. Anxious for the night to begin, at which point I know the nerves will leave. “This is the worst part,” I say. Things have to get bad before they get better. We’re antsy.
The nerves make way for the joy. This is where it has all led to. As important as the journey is, this is a destination I love returning to over and over again. This is my time and my team’s time. There they go, they’ve never danced harder. There’s the audience welcoming us. I make eye contact with my team mate on stage right. We nod, silently saying, “Let’s do this.” We’re running.
This is where we fly. Step on stage and pour your heart and soul into a work of art. I don’t mind if the audience hates it, I’m ecstatic if they love it. I’m happy to invite them on the journey through tonight’s performance, but it they don’t feel like coming along, I’m just fine to fly on my own. And flying is what it feels like. It sounds like woo-woo to someone who’s never been here, but my soul is flying, reaching higher and higher with every turn and leap, with every part of the story I tell, with every emotion I lay bare for the audience. The stage is a place that brings me so much joy. The smiles I share are real. We’re flying.
Pride. Exhaustion that’s so worth it. Icing on the cake when the audience rises and my heart expands and I feel like I’m glowing. 450 people in one room clapping in unison, congratulating us on a job well done. We did it.