Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Burning through the sky

Don’t stop me now… Freddie Mercury 1978

So last night I sat at a pre-audition meeting for the Denver School of the Arts with Ana. Snow was flying outside so the drive had been tense and we were a bit anxious, unsure of what to expect. We stood in lines, filled out forms, and listened to admonitions. This is one of the most competitive places in Denver Public Schools, the crowd was big, and I questioned the sanity of being there. The odds of being chosen to attend are daunting.

But then we entered the theatre and I felt it.

I wish I could completely convey the feeling of walking into a theatre hours before a performance. It’s a place where jangling energy literally floats on the air. That energy comes out in strange ways. Somebody is inevitably at the sound board putting something jazzed over the speakers. Some kid is over in a corner mugging for his friends where nervous laughter and clapping erupt spontaneously. Something, a chair or a table is moved onto the stage by someone, then another someone appears and moves it someplace else. The anticipation is sort of hanging there and it gets into you.

So then it’s the next day and I’m on a conference call with work. There is a casual conversation about a client Christmas party that some of us are attending. There is going to be dancing at the party. My boss explains that he won’t be dancing, not that he’s opposed but he was raised in a strict church where there was no dancing so he never got enough practice to become proficient. Now I don’t think that you need an excuse for abstaining from dancing in front of your work colleagues. Seriously, there are some images that nobody wants.

But it got me thinking of all the dancing I’ve done in my life. Theatrical and not. And why I’ve never considered not dancing. Did you know my Grandfather Doc and his brother were professional square dance callers? I don’t think it would have paid all the bills but hey, getting paid for something that you love. No flaw in that. Then there are all the extensions of dancing, there is acting and singing. There are all the plays I’ve seen, standing backstage at Auburn pulling fly lines for On The Verge. Sitting in the booth calling cues for Hair, dirtying up my face to be an urchin in Oliver! Singing in my high school choir, playing saxophone in the marching band. I wouldn’t have missed those experiences for the world. But why? And it goes back to something they talked about last night, it’s the ensemble experience. It’s that feeling of coming together with a bunch of other people and pulling something off and having a good time doing it.

Now I’m sure you can get that experience in many ways, doesn’t have to be theatre, dance, or music, those are just the ones that make an impression on me.

So I sat there in the theatre last night and I wanted that for Ana. Now I’m smart enough to know that this one school isn’t the only place for her to get that experience. I know there are other ways and means and places. I just don’t want to forget about it. And of course I’m entering the danger zone here. That place where my desires for her can’t overtake her own. But if she continues to want it, I sure need to help.

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