Photo Credit: Phil Wayes

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Loss, Betrayal, and Longed-For Saving Grace: A Sad Day in Upstage Left

During Friday and Saturday's performances I scribbled down all sorts of amusing things to regale you with in my little pink Hello-Kitty notebook....but you're going to have to wait. I just got off the phone with a fellow dancer, after a good 15 minutes of morosely going over the events of the day.

About five minutes before we took the stage for our Sunday matinee, we learned something very sad about one of our own dancers, someone who was new to our company. When he didn't show up at call time, we assumed it was a family emergency of some kind. At curtain time-- when we circled up to do our pre-show prayer, in fact-- the stage manager came to the door and told our director that someone wanted to speak with her. We were already in place to go on for Sabbath Day when someone (I don't even remember who, to be honest) came over and told us what was going on, and it was that moment that my heart cracked in half and leaked all over the front of my Shaker dress.

I attacked Sabbath Day with more energy then ever before (Because Jimmy was missing, I got to be in the first three movements of Sabbath Day again. As much as I wanted to dance those sections again I did NOT want it to be under such awful circumstances). I felt great while I was dancing, my body finally (Finally) [FINALLY!] felt like my own normal dancing body for the first time in weeks, I felt energetic, exuberant, and happy; the audience loved E and me in our little Shaker-duet... and the moment I got back into the dressing room, I looked at Victor and said "I'm so sad about Jimmy." He agreed, adding that "It just feels kind of surreal right now."

It was on everyone's mind, and we couldn't stop talking about what was happening. In the dressing room, in the hallway by the bathroom, and in the wings backstage dancers were going over the evidence: talking about what had happened the last time we saw Jimmy and speculating what may have happened after we all left the theater last night.

Of course, Jimmy danced in solo and principal roles. While it wasn't too hard to cover his absence in Act One, Act Two was a different story. My friend Blue Eyes and I sat down during the end of Act One and made a list of scenes he would need to be covered for in Douglass and Freedom; at the beginning of Intermission our director came in and talked with us about Who would cover Where by doing What. Lifts were re-worked, spacing was adjusted, dancers set off to learn some of his parts in under five minutes. Tensions ran high, people felt upset. I, the obligatory funny-girl of the company and already dressed in my Mrs. Lloyd costume, was at a loss for what to do, so on a whim I glided over to E in my hoop dress, lifted up my enormous skirt, and dropped it over her head.

This made E laugh hysterically (after she crawled out from under the big purple tent that is my hoop skirt), along with Georgia and Blue Eyes. It was only about a minute later, though, that we were alarmed by the sound of another dancer sobbing (this wasn't someone who we see cry very often ever, which made it even more startling). R and I ran over to hug her and offer comfort...but what can one really say or do at a time like this? We thought that she was stressed at trying to learn his roles in a twenty- minute time frame, but she later said "It just makes me sad, because he was so beautiful." I agreed, and had to pull my bonnet strings even tighter around my throat to keep from bursting into tears myself.

But then it was time: Places For The Top Of Act Two. We flowed through the first several scenes of Douglass. About halfway through I went up to Georgia in the wings, gave her a hug, and said "I just needed to hug someone. Know that I love you."

I then changed back into my Mrs.-Lloyd costume and danced the "Slave Machine" quartet, we all kicked ass, and it was awesome. I snuck into the wings to watch our director do Invisible No More and cried because it was sodamnfreakingbeautiful. Freedom felt good, my newly-modified lift with R (formerly my lift with R and Jimmy) went well, and I smiled and danced my little heart out. The audience applauded like mad and showered us with applause and accolades and love.

I stayed after, chatting with audience members and other dancers' friends/children/spouses and with Mr. Sozeberg (who came to see our show, Thanks Keyser! Did the Rockets win?). I helped clean up the dressing room, drove home blasting Stravinsky at a loud enough volume to drown out my thoughts, stopped at the grocery store by my house and chattered excitedly with the owner who essentially knows me by face (because I am there ALMOST EVERY DAY). I arrived home, I threw pizzas in the oven, and I poured myself a glass of wine the size of Lake Okeechobee. I drank, I read multiple volumes of "Growing Up Cullen," I watched downloaded episodes of Family Guy...anything, other than think about the dark and terrifying path that a dear friend of mine has gone down; possibly never to return.

Elspe called earlier, and we had a good long talk. She has known Jimmy much longer than the rest of us, and was able to offer a little more insight and background to what happened. We're both so sad for him, and we're both praying for his recovery.

I'll update you more later on. In the meantime, I'll give you something not-depressing to tide you over: Here's a picture of R and me as the evil-nasty slave-owning Lloyd contingency:
Aren't we cute (and by "cute," I of course mean "evil")?

Please pray for Jimmy, folks.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Thats scary. I read the program and don't remember a Jimmy, but I know you give people nicknames. Whcih one was he? That's sad. Was he in in an accident?

Natalie