Making my way down the long dark hallway, I hear voices coming from everywhere. Booming voices, little chattering voices, a squeal of delight here and there, and just a tad of controlled angst from one isolated voice as curtain time nears.
I am backstage, at a rehearsal just before opening night of “Dream”, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s first performance of the new season. And I am in awe.
The elaborate costumes! The whirls of practice leaps! The whispers! The feet pawing at a box of stability ensuring rosin! The wide-eyed excitement from tiny dancer Cupid and lightning bugs and butterflies!
I don’t know much about dance except that I love to see it, and do it. Music flowing through a body, silence too: we don’t realize dance’s impact until we find ourselves shaking a leg at someone’s wedding or letting ourselves surrender to a drum in a village in Africa, or watching a professional dancer onstage move in ways we only wish we could.
Oh, how it can alter our mood, outlook on life and frame of reference to what is happiness. If only we would do it more often ourselves. But for now, our eyes can drink in the wonders of how our bodies are capable of expressing rhythm through the mastery of accomplished dancers.
Being backstage gives us a glimpse into the immense amount of work that goes into a performance. What strikes me the most is seeing the people who are sweeping the floors: they are true dancers themselves, back and forth and back and forth, they sway as the live orchestra warms up.
And the woman who is on duty calling the lights and curtains and stage entries…can she be more alert? Her gaze is steady and strong, coordinating so many moving parts and people and props and pulleys, yet she possesses a calm fortitude under immense pressure that is inspiring.
I wonder if being around the dancers influences a support staff’s dance. Perhaps we all should carry such grace into our daily lives.
I see a dancer, she must be new to the company, and she has the look of terror in her eyes. But I watch her search the eyes of a principal dancer as she observes their every move. Her eyes soften and fear is replaced by confidence as she sees this seasoned dancer wink at her. And with that, she enters the stage, dances with her heart, and exits with elation.
Inspiring, energetic, passionate, and feverish.
This is Oregon Ballet Theatre.