Tonight opens The Company's annual Black History Month show. This is my second season dancing in the Black History Month Program, and it's been extremely fun and enlightening and an all-around Really Neat Experience.
Until, that is, I got injured; injured in a way that cost me my favorite ballets. While it's mind-blowingly depressing to be unable dance ballets that I loved dancing and worked my buns off in rehearsals for...I'm still making the best of it. Let's take a look at the last few days of our final rehearsals and Butterfly's Backstage Antics.
1. It's really neat to see how far one of our pieces has come since last year's show. Last year, 'The Slave Machine' was a work-in-progress; one short dance with four dancers in black pants and hooded shirts. This season....
2. ....it's a thirty-minute multi-disciplinary show within a show. Music, spoken-word text from Douglass’ writings, shadow sequences, character representations of many different people from Douglass’life, including Douglass himself (A great guy dancer who just joined our company is Fredrick Douglass as an adult, and of course we have the ever-awesome Little Freddy who has really handled this process like a pro).
3. R and I are, as I like to say, “the a**holes of the show.” We play Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd, who were Douglass’ masters. The section that we danced last year is now a representation of young Fredrick and another Slave being dominated by us. Later on in the ballet, a variation of our choreography is danced by older Frederick and Mr. And Mrs. Auld (Mrs. Auld had taught Frederick how to read until she was told that educating slaves was against the law. The section of the ballet that depicts Douglass's interactions is very poignant, to the point of being heartbreaking.)
4. My partner in
crime small-girlness, E, dances the role of Sophia Auld and is AWESOME at it. She and I dance together a lot because we both have similar body types/similar movement styles/we're both cute; and in this ballet we both get to wear hoop skirts in our slave-mistress roles. IT'S FUN.
5. I've discovered that a hoop skirt can be maneuvered in a way that creates a nice little breeze, so I started fanning people with my skirt when they come into the dressing room sweaty from dancing. It's now called the "breeze machine."
6. I love watching Big Freddy and Little Freddy dance together. They connect to each other beautifully.
7. There's a really gorgeous solo called 'Invisible No More' that I had never seen until yesterday, based on a really beautiful piece of text. I watched it for the first time from the audience during an early rehearsal; and during that time there could have been a UFO over my head, a unicorn on my lap, and Bigfoot sitting next to me and I WOULD NOT HAVE NOTICED.
8. I realized that both year's I've danced in the BHM show, someone has gotten shot. Theatrically, I mean; not with real firepower and armament.
9. That said, I'm sure there are some shows out there where violence does erupt during tech week....
10. In 'Sabbath Day,' we wear bonnets.* I took to saying "I'm bringing bonnets back" and doing a faux-Justin-Timeberlake dance in our dressing room; which is an amusing sight in 18th-century Shaker garb.
Anyway, I'm off to get ready for a long day of rehearsals and opening night. It's a really neat show; I'm so bummed that I don't get to dance all the roles that I had been rehearsing yet I'm honored to have had the opportunity to learn them (the first few sections of 'Sabbath Day' were like an amusement park for me, because I'm small and I like to jump. I now tell the other dancers to "go have fun for me."). If you're in Houston, I strongly advise coming to see the show. You'll learn something. You'll be entertained. And while you won't get to see me dance 'Howling at the Moon,' you will still see me get shot.
Catch you after curtain call.
* By "we" I mean "only the women." This is not Trocks.