28 December 2013

Shadows And Lights

I have started so many posts, trying to put into words what I'm learning and what I'm experiencing and the pain of being away for such large blocks of time. I have yet to successfully make a post that smoothly covers all of that without going on for pages and pages.

A lot of the past semester was the depths of despair. I was away from my family, studying for a degree (which I still see as a cop-out move for people not willing to just move on with their lives and I loathe myself for now being one of these idiots), forfeiting dance -- the love of my life, having absolutely zero time for even listening to music (never mind doing choreography), and finding out that everyone on the planet has more skill and talent than I do at anything you could possibly name.

From this there were only brief moments of respite. Most of them were packed into musical weekend. And even then, there was sadness mixed in with them (the first of which being the knowledge that no-one I knew was coming to see this, the biggest production I've ever been a part of).

See, the college puts on this Christmas musical every year. This thing is a big deal. I don't know if this is standard procedure, but this year they ran four shows in three days. There's a full orchestra, three choirs, dancing, pyro, an intricately detailed set, and, of course, the drama itself. Apparently this thing pulls crowds of 10,000 people some years.

I'm in the college choir, thus I was in the show. I found out two weeks before the show opened that there had been the option to audition to be a dancer. But I hadn't known that back in September when they were holding auditions or I would totally have been there. I hadn't auditioned for an acting role because I know I can't act, and I doubted I wouldn't end up in the madhouse under that kind of rehearsing/course schedule.

Opening night was painful for me. It felt like there was something wrong with the universe. I was up in the risers with the choir and we were singing wonderful beautiful arrangements of lovely songs which I did quite enjoy, but words can't describe looking down from the choir and seeing the dancers in white skimming across the front of the stage. It was so hard not to cry. All I could think was I should be down there with them.

But there were redeeming moments too. The general atmosphere of being backstage and onstage, entering and exiting, looking up and seeing the lights, looking out and seeing the crowd, waiting for the music's cue, the cheers of the audience after our most spectacular rendition of O Holy Night, costume changes, the smell of stage makeup, silence backstage as we waited to file on. Even the hurried snacks of apples or granola bars in between acts were like being at home. This is where I belong. Backstage, onstage, in costume, under the lights, surrounded by music, living on apples, granola bars, and the odd sandwich. This was the first time I'd ever been in a show that ran more than once, and that made it even better because then if you slip up in one performance, you can fix it in the next. There's always room for improvement, and by the time you reach the fourth show, you are rocking it. Plus, it means more stage time and backstage time and just more time in the performing world in general. When you only do one show, it's one afternoon/evening and that's it, you're done. It's really only a hiccup in the fabric of your real life, you don't have time to sink in to the performing world long enough to enjoy it.

It was enough to get me through the final month of the semester. It reminded me of my dream: the stage, the music, the dance.

If only I'm not too old and beaten down for the dream once I get out of college...

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