“This is your 10th year, I want you to look good on the floor.”
It was about the fiftieth time we’d heard our dance instructor, Ms. Sharon, say it. For weeks now she’d been patiently coaching us through our many routines, and she has never failed to emphasise Monash Dance Fusion Club’s milestone — our 10th anniversary. The annual concert, an established tradition by now, would in mere hours officially celebrate a decade of the club’s existence. Hours of training over the past five months now culminated in this final rehearsal.
The curtain went up, and the lights came on. The stage was unfamiliar, smaller than we were used to, but we marked our places and trusted our bodies as we danced our way through practiced steps, trying to imagine that we were already performing in front of 400 people.
The rehearsal felt like it would take forever. I kept checking my watch in between routines, trying to gauge how long it would continue and estimating how much time we would have once it finally ended to rest before the actual show. In the dress rehearsal last night I’d watched each performance, mesmerized as if they were brand new even though I’d already seen each routine several times; today, I was too anxious to watch the other dances. Instead, I was focused on my steps, my timing. There was a particular segment of my final dance that was still stubbornly out of sync with the choreography; I obsessively practiced the two-minute routine for over an hour in the outside corridor while Ms. Sharon assessed the other dancers onstage. I would get it right, I vowed.
Rehearsal concluded. We retreated into the dressing room for hours to apply our makeup, style our hair, prepare our costumes. We grabbed a bite to eat in the midst of it, but rest wasn’t really part of the equation.
Come seven o’clock, the hall was filled. I stood behind the curtain with the other members of our opening group, waiting for our cue to step out. It felt like the emcee was talking for ages, yet at the same time, his introduction sped by quickly. Before I knew it, the lights were dimmed, the audience primed. With a pounding heart, alert muscles, and excitement coursing through my veins, I walked to my place onstage in the near-darkness.
Ms. Sharon’s pre-concert pep talk echoed in my ears.
“This is our 10th year. Let’s give them the best show yet.”
I silently uttered a quick prayer that all would go well, that I would recall my steps and do my part in making this a concert to remember.
The lights snapped on. I held myself still. It was the final moment of calm before the frenzy of performance.
The music started.
From the first beat, I forgot everything except the choreography I had internalized over the past few months. I danced my way across the stage as I had across the Monash dance studio countless times already, but this was no longer practice. This was the real thing, and I kept that in mind as I rushed through my costume changes to make it back to stage in time for my next appearance. The performances whizzed by in a blur; in no time at all it was time for my final routine.
Breathe. Count. Balance. Stay in sync. I can do this.
It was far from the last dance of the night, but it was my finale. I threw myself wholly into the choreography, concentrating especially on that problematic segment.
I got it right.
Flushed, smiling, satisfied, I found my seat in the hall and watched the rest of the concert unfold.
It was our 10th annual concert, and it was the best one yet.
Also, before you walk away, captivate yourself in this highlight video of the concert
Article by Ashley Elizabeth Wong
Photos by Shaun PRAKESH Stanley and Terence Kong