Fan Kicking Stage Fright Away
Take a minute, only one moment and remember what it felt like to be in your first year of middle school. Just think back to those days when you finished up elementary school, having your parents help you purchase every single item on your school supply list including a binder that is seemingly impossible to hold, much less drag it from class to class with three minute intervals between classes. You have to stick with it though, so instead of worrying your days away, you decide that waiting for something marvelous to happen in your middle school years would be much more productive. Maybe you’ll join the school’s chorus group, maybe you’ll pick up a sport like soccer because hey, soccer is cool. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll be just like me and audition for a musical.
The first middle school production that I auditioned for and got into was “Grease”. Also known as the story of Danny and Sandy, also known as the “Greased Lightning” show, but most known for the fiery characters dressed in pink poodle skirts and black leather jackets. If you knew me when I was in 6th grade, you would know that I was too shy to even consider audition for a speaking role which involved singing solos and passionately acting, something I would never find myself doing. The only other option I had was dancing.
I had tried dancing in 4th and 5th grade in a larger group of dancers in a local theater show over the holidays. This show led me to purchase brand new black ballet slippers which were retired upon the ending of the ever-sparkly and cheery holiday show. Little did I know that a year later they would make another grand appearance, this time on a middle school stage, accompanied by a hair salon type of cape and the song “Beauty School Dropout”.
If we flashback to the earlier years of my life, I would be described easily as shy, sensitive and quiet. If you told me when I was 8 that I would fall in love with being on stage, I would look at you with pure confusion and reply with a simple phrase, one resembling, “I can’t go on stage, I’m too scared.” I would get so nervous while presenting projects for school; the concept of other people watching me really freaked me out with the fear of messing up in front of everyone in the back of my mind.
Fast forward to the middle school years, I slowly but surely emerged from my shyness shell. I am quite convinced that doing the Christmas show gave me more confidence, even though it was a two and a half minute dance and I was hidden in the back. By the time I was in middle school, I was more ready to face the world of theater. Suddenly I found myself a few months after the auditions, backstage with some of my friends getting ready to walk on stage, complete with a hair salon cape and a smile to match.
At first, I looked out in the audience and felt my nerves in rindge upon me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people staring at me. As my eyes scanned the crowd, I finally came across one face in particular, that being my grandmother’s. She had the biggest smile on her face and began waving at me from her seat. Although performers are not encouraged to wave back to their grandmothers, I gave her a huge smile instead and performed my dance. I was no longer afraid of seeing a large crowd in front of me as I danced, and dancing in that musical began a passionate love for dancing.
I have been dancing since 6th grade, adding different genres of dance every year as time progressed. It started out as ballet, tap and jazz. Then I added in lyrical and modern, followed by contemporary, and even Pointe in 9th grade. Many early ballerinas dream of getting the wooden ballet shoes as they are often called, and I accomplished that dream within years!
Sometimes after dance class on the ride home, I think about how I got this far and got to love dance this much. After Grease, I was in many other musicals and plays as a dancer and grew more and more confidence as each performance passed me by. And during some of the most defining years of my life, dance quickly became a part of it that I hope will remain forever.