The lights dim, the crowd silences, and the nerves disappear. The curtain opens, inch by inch, until you can start to make out familiar faces in the audience. The light finally brightens, and the music starts. The rest is all a blur.
Ah, recital time. The nights that we prepare for for months on end. The costumes are so very ornate, hand sewn with gemstones and embroidery. The stress backstage only results in equanimity onstage. Oh, how I love these nights.
June 11, 2016. It was, like I mentioned before, an incredible night filled with passion for the art.
I was on stage, performing a ballet piece. I was dressed in a two piece costume, the top covered in an ivory lace and sequins, and the skirt a tulle, floral print. The song was some sort of instrumental. I must have been told the name at some point, yet I can’t seem to remember.
It was my turn to complete my solo portion of the dance. My choreography was not as simple as the group work. I was told to complete a chasse, or a skip in everyday terms, followed by two steps and a triple pirouette, a turn on one leg with the other leg bent with the toe touching the standing leg.
My triple turns were questionable. Sometimes, I nailed it. When that happens, I could pass as a professional dancer. (Well, maybe not, but that’s what I try to believe.) Other times, though, the odds are not in my favor. So many things could go wrong. A bad preparation, a bent standing leg, an uneven shoulder, or a weak foot could all result in falling on my face onstage. And I was not about to do that.
The music starts to slow down. I could feel my heart pounding inside of my chest. The other girls on the stage started to return to their spots after their solos. My plastered-on smile could barely hide the butterflies in my stomach. My shoes gripped the stage floor. I had eight more counts. Seven, six, five- (My head was spinning), four, three two- (I started to map out the easiest way off the stage), one.
I had no excuses. I was as ready as I would ever be. My heels started to life, as well as my upper body and arms. My body started to move on its own. I was just along for the ride.
The chasse was simple. I made it to my preparation. My feet were the perfect distance apart. My chin lay in line with my shoulders . My arms were rounded ever so slightly. I was focused from the top of my head down to the tips off my toes.
So, I just went for it. I bent both my knees, and right on the music, I pressed up, whipped my left arm to meet my right, brought my right leg to passé, and started my pirouette. My head spotted the audience.
One turn was completed. My body was still aligned. My confidence was peaking. Two turns were completed. I was starting to lose my center.
“I am going to have to fight for this turn,” I thought as I entered the third pirouette. I gave it everything I had. I pulled up out of my standing leg as my instructor always told me to do, went as high as I could on my relevé (or tippy toes, as the rest of the world refers to it), pressed my shoulders down, and held my body perfectly still in my set position.
“You did not work on this turn for five months just to fail onstage in front of the entire crowd,” I thought. I knew I would not be giving up.
Then, it was over. I had made it back to my preparation. My smile was now more giddy than it had ever been. The crowd bursted with cheers. I could see through the corners of my eyes my entire family, from grandparents and cousins, to my brothers waving their arms and my parents taking pictures. (But little did they know you are not allowed to photograph recitals.)
“Tonight could not be anymore perfect,” I thought.
Too bad I still had five more dances.