Well, I wouldn’t call it a swan song, but my run as a swan has come to its natural end.
It was a tremendous experience, though. Perhaps one of my favorite performances ever.
We had our studio dress rehearsal on Sunday.
Then rehearsal for the swan pieces on Tuesday. In the midst of all the clarifying, cleaning, and running-through, our dancers were also getting final costume fittings from our dedicated costume volunteers who were dutifully tacking glittery tulle on the tutus and stitching the basques to the waists of the tutus. It was rather a stressful time, honestly. People worried that the costumes might not get done, or that the final alterations wouldn’t result in a workable result. Seeing as my sewing skills top out at sewing elastics and ribbons on to my pointe shoes, all I could really offer were crossed fingers and good wishes.
Then Wednesday and our dress rehearsal in the theatre. I skipped out of work early so I could be home in time to bun up my hair and turn my make-up into something stageworthy. Threw on my tights and nude camisole leotard and headed to the theatre. It’s part of a large high school in the area, but the theatre is glorious with lovely big dressing rooms and a green room, a huge loading dock off the back and a giant overhead door leading to the stage from the hallway opposite the loading dock. This theatre was clearly designed for performing! But we had never performed there before, so it was all a brand-new and, thus, slightly scary world!
While the people backstage figured out the lighting cues and props, the backdrops and curtains and special effects, the dancers figured out their quick costume changes. Let’s face it, dress rehearsal is pretty much just loosely organized chaos!
And then came our turn on stage. First as swans. The fog blew in from the fog machine and we stood on our trembling (at least in my case!) swan legs. We figured out wing entrances and exits and backstage crossings. And discovered that the unmarleyed parts of the floor are scary slippery. Whoops! But hey, better to figure this out before the show! Then on to Ladies in Waiting where we danced with our knights and the princesses and the king and the other king and, towards the end, the tiny little flower girls.
Run-through done we poured out of the theatre. Got to have some post-rehearsal snacks with some of my fellow dancers on the way home.
Then the day of performance number one dawned. It was bea-UT-i-ful. Clear blue, cloudless sky, no humidity. Simply gorgeous. I worked from home that day, but spent most of it giddily checking the clock until it was time to shower and bun up my hair and do my formal performance make-up. Then I headed to the theater in advance of call time to set my spot backstage and relax a bit. It helps that this particular theater is a mere 10 minutes from my house!
We got ready for warm-up class at which point we discovered that this theatre actually has a dance studio in it! Not the greatest studio ever, but beats dancing in the seats! Had a good warm up and got a pep talk from the director, then it was off to put on pointe shoes and costumes and get ready for our show!
So… the first performance of the first production of a show in a new space is always a bit hairy and this was no different. We had a few mis-steps. Lighting and music cues gone awry. And a few brain farts on the part of the dancers. These can be maddening, but they happen and all you can do is roll with it. So we did. And even with the hairy moments I will say that the show blew me away. The details. The dancing. The theatre. It all came together gorgeously. And was over far too soon.
After the show was over I changed quickly backstage and went out front to look for familiar faces (parents, dance teachers, etc.). I heard an unfamiliar voice yell out, “Rori!” and turned to see a friend from MANY moons ago. I knew her from high school, though we didn’t go to the same school… we both played brass instruments and had met through various band events. She had seen my post on Facebook and brought her daughter and a friend of hers to see it! She doesn’t even live in the immediate area! What an amazing and wonderful surprise!
Next morning I set the alarm early for we had a 10am show… on a Friday morning. Yeah, kind of a weird show time, but I think they were trying to capture the summer camp and elder groups. Oh, and it also happened to be… the day I turned 35. I am a 35-year-old swan. Okay, THAT has to be worthy of some sort of accolade, yes?
I treated myself to a trip through the donut chain drive thru down the hill from my house (where another dancer friend was pulling in as I was exiting!) for some eggy/cheesy goodness and went back to the theatre. Settled in, warm-up class, tutu/pointes… you know the deal.
This show went about a thousand times better than the previous evening’s. I mean, the music and lighting cues were mostly on. There were no mass brain farts on the part of the dancers. I figured out how to quickly wiggle my ass in and out of my Very Tiny Tutu. Basically, a glorious final (birthday!) show.
Topped off by going out to the audience to meet up with my parents and brother’s family who had so graciously come to see me dance and take me out for a noon-time margarita and ice cream (there may have been an actual lunch entree in there somewhere, but the margarita and the sundae were the important parts). While we were at the restaurant some other members of the Swan/Ladies family arrived, so I got to spend some time with them, too. (I don’t know about you, but after a show I always feel the need to sit down with my fellow performers and rehash everything!)
The best part of this show, for me, was the feeling of triumph. For whatever reason my last dance company performance (last year’s Nut) left me in a funk. It wasn’t a bad show, but I felt bad. I didn’t meet my own expectations and I was frustrated. While the subsequent recital went fine, I don’t take that as seriously as the company stuff, so it didn’t do much to make me feel better. For whatever reason, my swan performance made me feel like a competent dancer once more. I made my share of mistakes, I can’t deny that, but I enjoyed the dancing. I felt like a swan. I felt beautiful. So from that standpoint… win!
Not a bad way to kick off the next year of my life, I’d say!