My heart was thumping, pounding against my chest. As though it were attempting to force its' way through my rib cage or maybe leap up out of my throat. It was hard to tell. Perhaps my many shaking limbs would manage to prevent my heart's desperate escape, but I was doubtful. In any case, none of this would be able to quench the constant drumbeat playing in my ear.
Thomp. Thomp. Thomp!
I tried taking deep, calming breaths but there was nothing 'calming' about them. They had no effect on my chaotic thoughts and my raging heart.
I then focused my attention to my, until that moment, unconsciously wringing hands. The soft, creamy white fabric slipped in and out between my fingers. Over and under, gently flowing like water, as it trailed down brushing against the pitch-black floor. The silk scarf was cool and soothing on my shaking and sweaty hands. What if I dropped the scarf mid-spin? Would they laugh? Would I be able to keep going? Play it off as a part of the dance? Or would I freeze? Frozen under the boiling heat of the dozens of lights focused solely on me. I could only hope I would have the courage to keep going, but I really did not want to find out for certain.
Thunderous applause pulled me from my frantic mind. Another piece was finished. I watched as three slender figures dressed in black, puffy tutus with red roses pinned to their waists and in their hair, and shiny ballet slippers on their feet, glided off the stage, through the side stage curtains, not sparing me a glance as they disappeared through the backstage door. Most likely to change into another costume for another piece.
There was a sudden rise in sound backstage as little girls, all dressed in bumblebee costumes, were rushed past me by chaperones and stagehands and stomped onto the stage, stumbling around with their fuzzy bumblebee hoods too big or too small so they could not see. The music began to play and I was given a moment of blissful peace as a happy, recognisable tune began to unfold. I was completely lost to the adorableness that was the two-year-old dancing bumblebees. My rigid muscles, tight from my own anxiety and nerves, relaxed and my thoughts began to calm as I watched them with a fond smile as they attempted to get into what must have once been their starting positions, though was mainly just them scattered across the stage with the majority waving wildly at the audience, displaying their own excitement at being on stage. I continued to gaze through the gaps in the thick, black side stage curtains that provided both entrances and exits for the dancers, observing as the little bees hopped and skipped and pranced across the stage... while they were supposed to be doing pliés and Good Toes, Bad Toes. Yet, even though they were doing all the wrong things, so wrong I'm sure even the audience knew that this was not what they were supposed to be doing, they still looked so adorable! What could be cuter than two-year-olds doing ballet dressed as bumblebees? My only answer would be to add some puppies and kittens. They all seemed so blissfully happy, except one, who had burst into tears as soon as her toes touched the stage floor and had been lead back off again to calm down before hopefully joining her friends, but I had been involved in enough of these shows to know, there was always one who cried.
That dance also came to an end and the crowd cheered once again, so loudly you think it was the Bolshoi they had just witnessed as the bumbling baby ballerinas were ushered off stage. With the ending of the music, returned my complete and utter panic. There were only two more dances before my own. What had I been thinking when I agreed to do this?! It will be fun! Exciting! What was I thinking? I barely even noticed the flurry of white and yellow tutus and the accompanying pitter-patter of dozens of small feet as the 'Daisies' prepared to enter the stage. The music began again and they ran in on their cue, this time the music provided me with no solitude, leaving me to my own torturous thoughts. I could not do this.
I had seen several of my fellow classmates perform solos already, only about ten minutes before. That was what had really begun to make me doubt and question. Not that I would ever admit it out loud. Nora had been perfect, as I had expected she would be. She always was. She was not a mean or self-centered girl if anything that probably would have made my life easier. She was quite sweet (except she was a terrible gossip), just an amazing dancer. She could pull off a dark seductive queen to a childish pixie. Her flamenco-ballet piece was fantastic. How was I to compare to that?
YOU ARE READING
Inside a Dancer's MindShort Story
A short glimpse into the mind of a ballet student, minutes before going on stage to perform her first solo. A short essay I wrote in my sixth year (final year of second-level education). I found it again while looking through some old things and tho...