So you walk on stage…

Palau de la musica

I was sitting in the theater, on the first balcony, right above the left side of the stage. I watched the young girls dancing below me. I could see their hands, faces, and feet. I could also see all the small mistakes and inexact movements. Now that I have been on the rehearsals I knew what the perfect performance should look like. But it was not the uncleanness of their steps that bothered me.

While listening to the Mozart’s music and seeing the little bodies transforming the stage in to a magical world I thought that what did not let me enjoy the performance to its fullest was the tension. The tension was visible on almost every ballerina face. The tension transformed their hands and feet. It was the tension and the attention to detail that danced that night. It was not the joy of dancing. Coached to smile while on stage, some of the girls would suddenly stretch their mouths in long smiles. But the smiles were not radiant. The glow did not come from inside. I longed to see a ballerina who enjoyed the dancing more than each particular detail of the dance. And right then one came on stage. And the glow was so radiant that I closed my eyes for a second.

I stood up and leaned on the wall right over the stage. And looked. And then I thought that our life is not different from that. After years of being grown ups we become professionals at this grown up life thing. We know how to do our jobs, how to run our households, how to bring up our children, how to maintain our relationships, how to talk to other grown ups and how to talk to children. Those of us who are any good focus on details, because finally details are what make us be us. It is about how you talk, how you eat, how you dress, how you hold your pen, how you close the door, how you sleep on the couch when you are tired and nobody is watching you. All these are details and our faces are tense making sure we do not omit anything. Then there is the next level: the radiance of living. Once all the details are perfectioned and become part of us, once we remember what it feels like to gaze at the sky, to laugh without stopping, to run for no apparent reason, once we love ourselves again only then we are able to make others smile. Only then we are able to give something valuable and irreplaceable to the world around us. And it is not easy and it does not happen by itself. And then I thought that I always appear serious in life and on the pictures. I thought that I was no different from these young ballerinas who learned all the details of the dance, but have not yet got to enjoy it truly. Without this glow we can never create anything of value.

I ran down the beautiful theater stairs, I crossed the hall, I showed my green pass to the guard, and pushed the hard wooden door. I ran down the simple greenish stairs and went straight into the open door that said Camerinos. There I found my daughter already changed.

“How was it?” I asked her.

“It was great!”  she replied.

“Lorena, listen, next time you go on stage just enjoy it, ok? Do not think about anything, do not think about your hands, your feet, your face. Just think how you enjoy dancing, how you enjoy dancing on stage. Think about yourself. Dance for yourself. It does not matter if you make mistakes, it does not matter if you lose extra second with a movement. It really does not matter now. Just love yourself when you dance. Will you?”

“I will. I already do,” she said.

And then I thought that she knows so much more than I do. So, you walk on stage… and you must love yourself. I am learning from her now.

Ballet Junio 2014

Onstage you always smile

Lorena onstage b&w

“Remember girls, onstage you have to look happy. Always! You have to smile when you dance. When you dance here on a real stage, you have to forget about your tiredness, about your parents, about the public, you have to forget everything except the desire to dance well. Dance to your best ability, dance with joy, always with a smile on your face. Your hands and feet know what to do, now you have to dance your best and smile. It must be the smile of acknowledgment of your effort, of your ability. Your hardest work is the best celebration and joy you will have in life.”

“Please do not dance just to have fun, do not just do something for the sake of doing something. Always do the best you can, do it with purpose, with passion, strive, work hard. Now you have seen the lights turned upon you, wearing a beautiful dress, wearing makeup, may be for the first time in your life. Do you know what it means?”

“This beautiful dress is a part of celebration of your effort and your ability. This dress represents your purpose, it accounts for every hour your spent dancing to be on this stage, it is the beauty of your hard work. Wear it with pride! Wear it with a smile! You are the true owner of this dress now!”

“Today is your last rehearsal, tomorrow the public will be watching you. Forget everything except how well you can dance! Your chin always up, a smile, and only think about the best you can perform! In this accomplishment and in the celebration of it lies the happiness.”

Those were the words of the ballet instructor to the girls who were about to perform onstage for the first time in their lives. Skirts, tutus, little feet running behind the stage. People in black hurrying around, gesticulating, the dresses being steamed, girls rehearsing in the halls, makeup artists, voices. Music, more little feet running up and down the stairs. “The door one?” “Ready.”

I generally do not put the portraits of my daughter on this blog. However, I made an exception this time. I find these two portraits to be a reflection of what she was able to do. I did those shots behind the stage, at night, after the last rehearsal was over. She was very tired. I asked her if she was afraid of dancing onstage and she said she wasn’t. And added that she wants to go back onstage. She just turned six.

Lorena after her baller rehearsal