It's Rainin' Taps!
It's Showtime Y'all
Tappin' In Christmas at CSC In 2011
The day of the Cancer Support Community's Holiday Open Mic, December 16, 2011, was one of such raging emotions and nerves for me I thought I wouldn't be able to get through it. Everything about the event, this time, was so diametrically opposed to the first one that I felt overwhelmed by the obstacles facing me prior to the actual "showtime." Besides my car deciding not to run smoothly that day, limiting my transportation options to the facility, I also felt exhausted because I was severely anemic and physically tired from practicing.Furthermore, Eileen Flaxman and Nancy Lewis, the Open Mic coordinators decided not to have a dry run prior to the show or as Nancy put it, "We think people should just run up there and do their thing." Lastly, the final thing that immobilized me with panic was they told me that I would be the finale! That meant all eyes would be on me as I closed the show.
On my way to CSC I kept thinking about something Richard Hart, one of my cancer advisors told me about cancer, "It will constantly try to drag you down, tell you you aren't good enough, and that finally you are going to fail." When I realized that's why I was feeling so anxious I started to rebel and remind myself how I've acted whenever anything or anyone was against me. "You're a fighter and you can do anything you set your mind to." I just kept repeating that to myself as I mentally tried to relax my arms, legs, chest and back.
"I'm going to change into my costume and practice," I told my mother, who'd come with me to cheer me on.
After I put on my costume, stretched in the bathroom and practiced on my "FASFOOT" portable tap stage to my cd in the space the Open Mic was going to be held I felt better. While practicing I also tried to remember all of the things I'd learned at the "Tap Into The Holidays" workshop I attended on December 11, 2011, at the "Debbie Allen Dance Academy." I wanted this piece to be extra special so I felt the extra time put in with a few professionals would help me out.
"Don't tap too loudly," I heard Melinda Sullivan say in my head as I worked through the beginning. "Tap clean and clear," I heard Sarah Reich say while I did my time steps and "Don't be afraid to move your body," I heard Maud Arnold say as I got into the groove with the song.
Just when I thoujght I'd calmed down, once and for all, I noticed twice as many visitors coming in making it practically standing room only. "Oh well, too late to back out now," I thought as I took a seat in one of the back rows. Soon the positive vibes of the holiday theme took over, however, and I relaxed again. When I looked around beautiful holiday decorations and tables laden with delicious treats were displayed so lovingly it was impossible not to feel overjoyed about the occasion.
I can't really speak for other breast cancer patients, but my own experience with holidays has definitely changed since my diagnosis. Since my energy is lower than it used to be, I can't go shopping like I used to, and sometimes I feel lonely during the holidays whenever I remember ones from the past where I was surrounded by friends and family. With this weighing on my mind I also felt extra pressure to share my tap routine with people who might be going through the same thing "How are they going to respond to it?," I wondered and "Will they enjoy it?" Whatever happened I was bound and determined to give them all I had and toss my joy in doing it out to them with both hands.
Settling back in my chair I watched the show, which opened with Nancy Lewis, who sang again this time, and was accompanied by Donna (a writer from my "Writing Group") on guitar. After her songs Donna then played "Ava Maria" solo on her guitar. Lovely, and spiritually uplifting, it almost brought me to tears.
Changing the mood dramatically, Eileen, in a stunning red and black dress read a very funny Christmas story that she wrote about "trying to catch Santa Claus in the act on Christmas Eve" that had the audience roaring with laughter.This Open Mic had a larger group of humorous readings and comediennes than the first one, and besides Eileen, three ladies with various outlooks kept the audience laughing about everything from reconstructive surgery to senior dating and the economy.
Embuing the show with just the right amount of Christmas spirit was a visit by Santa Claus, with a large supply of mini candy canes that he tossed into the audience, and the "All-Girl Choral Group from Beverly Hills High School." Karen Hart, an amazing drummer and singer, also did a great solo number then passed out complimentary cds ("Choirs On Fire") after the show. "The Caregiveer Group," a charming impromptu band did a nice rendition of "Jingle Bells" accompanied by kazoos and bells.
When my turn came I was very excited and nervous until Eileen said my name and introduced me. I walked up to the front, then rearranged my tap board because it was laid out the wrong way, which caused some people in the audience to laugh. I laughed along with them them told them, "I want to read a little poem to get you in the mood for my new tap piece, "I Got Soul." " I then read "Long Division," a Korean sijo I found in a children's poetry book by Linda Sue Park called "Tap Dancing On The Roof." I tapped while I read it, then threw the poem down on the floor and told the audience, "I want you to take a trip back in time with me," then I told Dolly ( the person running the sound system) to "Hit it," and put on the track for James Brown's "Soul Power, Part 1."
My taps felt and sounded amazing and I felt so light it seemed like I was flying on a magic carpet. I absorbed the happiness coming towards me, from the audience, and felt their love in every pore. I wish I could tell you that I saw the enthusiasm on their faces, but I decided to dance without my glasses, so I couldn't see a thing. I can tell you that next to the first Open Mic I tapped at in October this was definitely one of my happiest moments. When I was leaving a lot of people told me they really enjoyed it and one woman even told me, "Your number was great, but it was too short, and should've been longer." I couldn't have agreed with her more because I "could've danced all night and still begged for more."