Well, folks, I did it. As promised, (or "threatened", depending on how you look at it) I slithered into a slinky, sexy, sparkly costume and courageously chassed my way through my very first Showcase with the rest of my Jazz Ladies...and lived to tell. Actually, if I'm being completely honest, I found the experience to be...hmm, how can I phrase this delicately..."Gigantic Buckets of Awesomeness and I want to do it again now now NOW!" Ahem...I mean, I enjoyed myself...just a smidge.
In the week leading up to the actual "recital", it occurred to me that the last time I was on stage, in costume, was probably during high school, when I regularly performed in musicals as a singing, dancing member of the chorus. In other words: a looooooong time ago, kiddies. (Did this deter me in the slightest? Ha! I scoff at notion of stage fright! Let me know if I'm fooling anyone...) My classmates and I glided and spun through some scheduled bonus sessions to help everyone feel comfortable with our dance, and I began to wonder: would I be a quivering, nervous wreck when it was time to stand in front of an audience and do it "for real"? Then the evening of Dress Rehearsal loomed, and I had much bigger issues to deal with: specifically, how a woman who wears a minimum of face-paint in her everyday life can "glam it up" to actually look alive under the bright spotlights. Holy cosmetic aisle, Batman, I probably haven't worn eyeshadow, liner, or (heaven forbid) lipstick since...probably my wedding! (Here goes nothin'...) Then we walked out onto the scuffed wooden floor for the first time, in front of the empty auditorium, and ran our number...and the jitters I felt seemed more like...excitement and anticipation than, say, abject terror. (Pshew!) After practicing for months and months, my body could go through the steps even in my sleep...so really, there was a sense of "lemme at 'em, let's do this, already". (Oh, and when we had finished, a random stranger sitting in the front row--somebody's mother, I suppose--told me "Good job"! Dude! How rewarding is THAT? I could soooo get used to this...)
Opening Night, if you will, brought flashbacks to my high school theater days. The backstage chaos, the overflowing makeup bags, the rush to fix hair and change costumes and track down errant accessories. Except instead of a small, fairly controlled cast of teenagers, there were rampaging MOBS of females, from elementary school age to nearly-adult. Oh, and let's not forget the inevitable spats between daughters and their Dance Moms...and the resulting waterworks. Good grief, it was a Freaking. Estrogen. Circus, I tell ya. However, as an impartial (daughter-less) observer, none of this mattered much to me. I was just patiently biding my time, waiting for my turn on the boards. Oh, and this was the night I'd purchased tickets for my family to watch...albeit under extreme protest. (Derek: "WHAT? I have sit around for hours and watch a bunch of dancing?" he loudly complained when informed of his attendance requirement. To his credit, Husband did try to help out...by mentioning the plethora of "cute girls" they would have the opportunity to behold. Alas, they were having none of this argument...but then I mentioned the vast chunks of my life I've spent so far at their soccer games and told them "too darn bad, you're coming anyway!" That shut them up...at least temporarily...)
And then at last the moment arrived: a 3-1/2 minute presentation highlighting countless weeks of preparation, hard work and sweat. The lights came up, the music started, and it was go time! And how was it? Tons and tons of F-U-N...but over far too quickly (very unlike when we were learning it, 8 counts at a time...for-seemingly-ever)! The applause...and cheering (!) was priceless, though. And again, other grownups I didn't even know kept up the ego-stroking commentary, "Love your costumes!" "You guys look great!" "So much energy!" (Yes, I do realize this is how Divas are created...(tossing hair haughtily) and your point is?) Even better, when I caught up again with my crew at home later, they clapped thunderously as I opened the door. (I'm sure the boys were cued by their dad, but still: awww!) But what totally stunned me was Husband's unprompted review, "You guys ROCKED!" he enthused. As I gaped at him, wondering what this strange man had done with my normally understated, non-gushy spouse, he continued, "Everyone was in perfect sync...and really looked like they knew what they were doing!" (Incidentally, if I had handed him a script and instructed, "This is exactly what we'd like to hear, to bolster our confidence and pride as much as possible", he couldn't have done any better. A felicitous showing for the WestEnders Booster Club, if I do say so myself!) I thanked them all for their support, and Derek responded with a smile, "Eh, it wasn't that bad." (That's excellent news...since I'll expect you to do it all over again next year, too!)
After that, we got to perform once more, the following night. As if we hadn't been complimented enough, I was standing around at one point chatting with my classmates when a young dancer (age 9 or 10 maybe?) crept up to my side, stood there a few seconds until I noticed her, then said in a soft voice, "I just wanted you to know, I reaaallllly liked your dance...you guys are awesome!" Seriously? I had to stop myself from peering around suspiciously to catch the person who paid her to say such a nice thing. It was the icing on what had been a very sweet, satisfying weekend 'o dancing deliciousness. I can honestly say the whole escapade for me was delightful from start to finish...the only black cloud being...it's oooooover until September! (There's no law against slipping into my costume and dancing in the basement this Summer, though...you know, just to stay in shape...shhhhh!!!!)