Wednesday, March 22, 2006

t-minus forty-nine hours and counting

I really appreciate that nobody has called me on the fact that a couple of months ago, I was whining about leaving the company, and yet I'm still locked in pretty tight.

I am consistent in my inconsistency, I suppose; it is hard for me to leave things even when I've said that I'm going to. But more accurately in this case, I missed the point where it would have been graceful to leave, and decided to stay on to see this show through. Still ambivalent about what happens after the show's over, but really don't have the bandwidth (as we've been saying, all of us) to think that far ahead (ie, next week). It's a big deal that I managed to get a load of laundry done before I had to resort to wearing my prom dress (which would have been a problem, since I haven't got one, my school didn't do prom, much as a certain reader and I fantasized about dating boys from other schools and doing their homework in return for going to their proms. But I digress)

Anyway. How to put this delicately? We're behind. Unlike last year's set, which was one new piece and four older ones, this year the whole set is new, and several of the pieces include movements new to our vocabulary, Modern and Turkish Gypsy and Kalibeliya (Rom from Rajasthan). There are a lot of us to coordinate; there have been very few rehearsals with every dancer present. We're dancing choreographed pieces to live music, which we do rarely, and the whole band has yet to play together. We haven't been able to take a whole day to rehearse, instead eking out two hours here and two hours there at studios all over the area.

But it's beautiful. Last night we were at Shawl-Anderson over in Rockridge, with six of the seven musicians, and while I was waiting for my entrance cue, I kept seeing students from the regular classes peeking in the window from the hall, hanging over the banister of the stairs that lead to the second floor, clumping up in the space between our studio and the women's changing room. So I started going out to press flyers into sweaty hands. The whole thing, with costumes, Friday night, I kept saying. And dj's so you can dance too! S-A mostly offers ballet and modern, so I can't imagine what these folks were thinking as they watched us stir our masala, but they sure looked hungry.

At one point Earring and I are back to back, and do deep kneeling backbends at the same time. It's the one time I'll really be visible, truthfully. A) I'm still one of the taller dancers, so I'm in the back mostly and b) I'm still an apprentice, so I'm in the back mostly and c) the stage is narrow and deep, so I'm, well, you get it. Anyway, Earring's been concerned that I'm not ready for this backbend. So last night, somewhere between the third and eighth run-through, she said, the music's a lot slower live than the CD we've been practicing to. Our heads need to touch the ground on the four, shoulders on the five, and then come up. I've been saving it, I said, feeling a little uneasy that maybe I couldn't really do it. And I'm afraid we'll bonk heads again (this has happened a couple of times.) Well, don't save it this time, she responded. I can see you (and here she demonstrated the thing you're supposed to do with your head that I didn't previously understand) so I can go on the other side.

Okay then!

So on the next pass, I did the right thing with my head, so I could see her. And stuck my tongue out and made rude noises. Which I enjoyed much more than she did; she's pretty stressed out about, well, everything. But the move made more sense, I feel like I've got it, and now all I have to do is not fuck up my back between now and Friday night.

Afterwards, I went home with her to help make costumes. It wasn't like last year's trip to the Barn to build stuff. She was really quiet, we didn't have to push her gasless car out of an intersection, and mostly I stood there while she tried not to stick pins in me as she assembled skirts. Then I spent the night on her short couch, too congested to smell the puppy pee she'd warned me I'd find there, and surreptitiously sneaking candy eggs from a bag on the desk. This morning: banana pancakes and coffee with brown sugar from Cowboy, more pins narrowly avoiding the giant pincushion that is my tuchus, a spot of sewing on a beautiful old Singer I wanted to draw, and then home to the Spaceship to get ready to model in the afternoon. Which I did in the costume from last year's Undulation, yarn belt, and fishnet gauntlets, much to the delight and dismay of my artists (who had, I must mention, asked for it).

Point being. I've got one nerve left, my life is piling up around me, everyone who loves me knows not to ask anything of me right now, and there's a good chance I'll be up all night tomorrow doing one thing or another to help get us ready for this show, which is as stressful and pell-mell as anything I've seen the company do. I'll be onstage for probably a grand total of five minutes, after spending an hour getting my face on. I may spend the next two weeks in traction.

But it's beautiful. And that is what I tend to forget, when I think about leaving. There is something that happens here that isn't possible with one dancer, or even with a group of dancers with a different intent, composition, or artistic director. Whether I stay or go, I will have been part of something gorgeous; I will have helped make something instead of just commenting on whether someone else's something is worthwhile.

Which means a lot.