The second and final day of our huge recital came and went way too fast for everyone’s taste, but it was amazing and we enjoyed it enormously. It’s an amazing feeling to be part of a complete dance theatre production with almost three hundred dancers of all ages. If you want an impression of just how many dancers we were, you can watch a sped-up video of us practicing our final applause routine here.
Saturday was a hard day for us: we performed the entire piece twice, at 3 and at 7:30 pm. In between, I left our underground lair to go out for a meal with my mom, who, true to her promise, came to all three of our performances. From her, I finally learned what the hell is going on during the first act, which I completely failed to see. Apparently, the first act is at least as funny, beautiful and well-staged as the second. Rumour has it there will be a DVD of the entire piece. I will definitely need one. My family assures me the piece was very entertaining and enjoyable despite the very mixed skill level of the dancers. (The main cast, though amateurs all, are beyond reproach and should be worshiped.)
In many ways, the last show was the best for my mates and myself: we were much more relaxed, didn’t screw anything up and enjoyed ourselves on stage (which was the final instruction Friday’s teacher gave us). We lingered in the wings and really listened to our applause from the almost full house.
The final applause, too, was great: after the curtain closed for the last time, we cheered for each other and for all the wonderful teachers and crew who made it possible. This recital was special for the school: The staging of a huge dance theatre piece every few years is traditional, but this year, with Cinderella, the school is celebrating its 40th anniversary! The founder and owner, who must be around 70 by now, started each performance by telling the audience that while her name was on it, the show was a present from her teachers to her and that she hadn’t had to organise anything. After that final applause, the teachers presented her with a gift: a beautiful tiny glass slipper. Tears were definitely shed.
We filled the city theatre to the brim but it was a happy fullness. After the shows, cast and audience alike were invited for free drinks in the theatre’s extensive foyer, where Cinderella and the fairy had to give tons of autographs to enchanted little kids. I believe most of the adult supporting dancers got a head start on the drinking in the dressing rooms, before the final applause of the last performance. I know we did and I have a strong suspicion that the mermaids started even before their performance.
The mermaids were a special case, anyway. In the context of the piece, they were one of the princess groups that come to the ball. (They had flowing blue costumes, so we just called them mermaids.) In the context of the school, they’re the adult jazz class that trains right after my Monday modern. In the context of the theatre, they were the ones that occupied the entire dressing room before we even got there, leaving us with the tiny conductor’s room.
Winding up in the conductor’s room was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to us in this context. The mermaids definitely needed their space. The dressing room was somewhat understocked with tables and chairs, so they did their make-up on the floor, usually right in front of the doors. With countless beauty utensils everywhere and a mermaid or two strewn in for variety, the only way we could get to our room at all was through a series of grand jetés.
Though this might come off as chaotic, they were well-organised in other matters, being composed mostly of dance moms, from what I could tell. Any horizontal surfaces not occupied by make-up or mermaids were dedicated to impressive amounts of food. Entering the dressing room on Saturday, we were greeted by the sight of a 1,5 metre long sandwich, sitting in the spot of honour in the middle of the floor. Even more impressively, they managed to eat most of it before the afternoon performance. After the afternoon performance, they were so engrossed in their mermaid activities (sitting in a circle, finishing the sandwich and laughing in an ever increasing volume) that they not only missed the cue for the final applause, they also failed to notice all of us grand-jetéing past them following said cue and had to be fetched at the last minute. They might have tried to drown their regrets about this in champagne before the final show, but I’m going strictly by the audio cues here and cannot prove anything.
And what do we learn from this? Ain’t no party like a mermaid party! They sure made for some entertaining neighbours!