Many dance studios organise end-of-year dance concerts for students to showcase what they have learnt. They usually feature children and talented adult dancers. Thankfully, my dance studio Wings to Wings was kind enough to allow anyone to join the year-end concert.
It was my second year performing. The first year I danced in the ballet segment. This year, I took part in two items – ballet and contemporary dance. To prepare for this, we rehearsed once a week for each item for an hour about four months before the concert. It was actually quite incredible how much effort and time went into this just for a few minutes of blink-and-you-miss-it dance.
We arrived at 11am for makeup, blocking and rehearsals. The curtains opened at 8pm. By the time it was 5pm, I was trembling in exhaustion. Some of the girls didn’t want dinner because they didn’t want to be bloated on stage. But I was so weak I gobbled down my entire box of cai fan because I thought I was going to fall asleep without food. Some of us even went to 7-11 across the road from LASELLE (where the concert was held) to buy chocolates for more energy.
I was much better prepared this year. We were told repeatedly to make sure we kept warm. In fact, we were supposed to feel hot just because we got on stage to ensure that we don’t freeze up from stage fright.
Soon, it was time for the performance. We went on with the ballet item first.
Then it was time for me to rush backstage and slap on my face full of mermaid makeup (aka blue eyeshadow, glitter and sequins) to transform ourselves into evil sea creatures.
In a sense, I enjoyed our Contemporary dance more than ballet because the movements were more free. Ballet is the backbone of almost all dances, for sure, but when it comes to performances, ballet is so much more unforgiving. Every single mistake is painfully highlighted: Bad feet, check. Poor turnout, check.
Like last year, we took the opportunity to take random photos. This year, one of my besties Alicia joined me for the performance so we could take yoga shots as well.
Lessons I’ve learnt:
- Keep warm: As our chereographer and trainer Nariko told us, our feet are the most important for dancers. If your feet don’t feel right, you won’t feel okay on stage either. Alicia said that her toes cramped while dancing because she didn’t stay warm enough. Keep stretching and keep moving. As mentioned, you should feel hot before going on stage.
- Help your fellow dancers: Watching the video made me realise that it doesn’t matter how brilliant you are, it’s important to move as a cohesive whole. That means to be aware of what your friends are doing and try to help them to be in sync. During rehearsal, my friend Joyce told me that I did this “thing with your left hand” when I turned. I never realised what I did and it helped us look better as a whole when I stopped doing it.
- Muscle memory is important: Because we had a small studio space, we couldn’t go all out for some of the moves. For example, we could never do a full grand jete (jump in air with front splits) otherwise we would hit each other. When the performance day came, I realised I couldn’t do it properly either because my muscles were not used to it and I didn’t have the correct muscle memory to execute it at the last minute. Similarly, we should perform to our best ability at rehearsals because what we drill into ourselves (good and bad) will follow us to performance day.
Finally, thanks also to our dear friends who came to watch us, or as I put it, suffer through our performance.