A Dancer’s Details: Act 2

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  • Kirti Daya

This four-part series goes behind the scenes of a musical cast member, from the audition process to final stage performance. Join in for a weekly rendition of what happens in between!

We had officially reached the month of the show, and you know what that means! STRESS STRESS and an encore of more STRESS. The atmosphere in the rehearsal room was a mixture of excitement as well as tension as D-Day approached. Our choreographer had reached a level of comfort with us all, meaning she no longer held back in absolutely brutal criticisms of every dance piece. Nobody was safe. She did, however, prefer to generalise criticisms rather than single a dancer out which had its pros and cons. A con is the feeling of not deserving that specific critique but a pro in the sense where it rallied the team together. The team spirit really did stem from a common disappointment in ourselves as well as a drive to do better.

This month was also when costume fittings began. This posed a slight problem as measurements had been taken at the beginning of this entire process, and by now, all of us had lost weight. That, in combination with a slight problem with the tailor, didn’t help. Some outfits looked...well frankly, horrible on me. The length was off, the width was incorrect, it didn’t sit on me as well as it did on the other girls and I started to shrink within myself. I had to take a long, hard look at my body in the mirror, and remind myself that I loved what I looked like and that it was this body that produced art. No shoddily sewn skirt or ill-fitting top could ever take that away from me. The great thing about show productions is that the audience can hardly notice the small details that make you hate an outfit, such as weird seams, disagreeable fabric or even the glitter that manages to get EVERYWHERE by the time curtain call happens. This also helped me get over the mini dilemma that my costumes tried to make me go through.

With a week to go before show time, we finally made it to in-house rehearsal, and predictably, chaos ensued. The first dress rehearsal is ALWAYS a disaster; nobody anticipates the brief time we have for costume changes, or even the distance one has to travel during a piece itself. This often results in dancers running onto stage about five seconds after the piece has begun, or even wonky looking formations due to new stage dimensions. But all of that is to be expected. What was not expected was a last minute drop out due to a cast member falling extremely ill. And this so happened to occur after two hours of blocking, meaning we had to spend an extra two hours re-directing positions, formations, and partners. It was a long night, and we all left slightly frazzled, worried, and anxious about the completely new changes that had just taken place.

This was also the week in which we met the theatre’s resident backstage crew. The backstage crew honestly never gets enough credit; they were incredibly patient with us and stayed long hours even though they were needed for minutes at a time. There’s always that one really grumpy stagehand who keeps to themselves and scowls at whatever task they’re given, but that truly adds to the charm of theatre. Everyone else were absolute sweethearts, ready at hand to change the set or even pin up a costume in record time. After all, a production is only as good as the people who make it. And the backstage crew definitely make it.

It was an exhausting week. From continuous run-throughs to us standing on stage for times at the end, just to fix lighting and blocking or even last minute additions to choreography and formation, we were finally ready to show the public what we had been doing for the past ten weeks. And I don’t think anybody was ready for what they were about to see.