RE(nt) – Cap (Not Ready…Continued)

Posted: January 28, 2010 in Road to RENT

January 26, 2010

…and there was the light.

I had been taught about the light. It plays tricks. It is a performer’s anesthesia.

Its bright glare throws the performer onto the examination room table. Its blinding radiance numbs the performer’s emotions.  It hides the operator’s hands, holding the performer’s life in its cruel grasp. In the world of cheerleading and dance, these operators are known as judges.

These judges hold the score cards of your life, dismantling your beginning value of a perfect ten with each mistake they viciously seek out.

You strike a motion in a fist and the judges think you should have done a blade – one hundredth of a point off (10 – .01 = 9.99).

You spin and land passed a 360 degree rotation – minus a hundredth (9.98).

You trip – a tenth (9.88)

Your flex your toe, no matter how high your leap, even if your legs touch your ears – two tenths (9.68)

You start before the music and move beyond your preset routine restriction – music deduction (9.48).

The music stop and you don’t, your routine looking unfinished – deduction (9.18)

You fall, deduction (8.68), you fall twice, just get off the mat, you’re done.

They don’t like your hair – deduction (8.62).

They hate your music – deduction (8.52).

You miss a required skill – deduction (8.28).

They dislike your coach(s), just pray they can set their feelings aside for two minutes.

And unless you are well known, or wearing the right uniform from a respected and well like organization, you just found yourself at the bottom of the barrel. An 8.28 will not get you a medal.

There is no political padding for your mishaps.

You find yourself standing second best to someone simply because you have entered their territory. They are the town favorite.  They have broken the rules and their routine looked more like a scene at any club.

You stand next to your opponent, who is wearing the gold medal, pondering:

I knew I should have done a booty-tooch shimmy shake and drop, instead of a bend and twist.

And as the light blinded me, in front of my RENT cast mates, me pushing beyond its deafening illusions, I calculated my deductions.

The end of my dance came about, but the beat kept moving on. My head told me to stop, but my body was not finished, it continued.

My hand grasped the nearest bar, I saw the first face. I turned back to the lights and mouthed my final words. I turned towards the darkness, rounded a corner and landed uncomfortably on my back. Sweat raced down my face and my chest heaved trying to replenish what my adrenaline had created.

My mouth dried out and my teeth bared my excitement.

I could feel again, I could move again. I was alive.

I waited for the announcer to read off my score, anticipating my placement amongst my competitors. I heard his voice:

“We begin on Christmas Eve with me, Mark, and my roommate Roger…”

It was the opening line to RENT. I gasped as I realized:

This isn’t a dance competition, we’re not in Kansas anymore!

No Toto. No clicking my heels. Not time to go home. Follow the yellow brick road!

I smiled, relieved. Nobody held a score card.  The lights had played a trick on me, but this time its numbing agent was different. It displaced my mind into an arena of my past.

I snapped back into the present.

I sprang to my feet and began ripping my clothes off. Water was flying down my throat as articles of clothing flew to every corner, the sweat dripping from every inch of my body. I felt dizzy as I stood, underwear only, trying to locate my next change.

I threw my clothes on, slid onto the stage, late, as undetected as possible and fell into my ACT I character.

I held my head down, hidden underneath a hoodie, as I continued to try and calm my nerves. My breathing was normal but my adrenaline was pumping life into every inch of my body. I begged it to calm down, telling myself that my character was not so active. My body wouldn’t listen, it continued to lift me.

I dug deep and did the best I could to overshadow my own excitement.

It was amazing.

Everything felt real, organic. Each movement felt like my own, as if I were living my everyday life through song. When I stumbled, it felt natural. When I bumped into objects and people it didn’t resemble pre-ordained movements.

I was feeling these emotions for the first time.

Instances that were once familiar were now being perceived for the first time. It was as if a door opened and threw me into a new world that creepily resembled my own.

It was another typical day in my life, my day by day routine.

After the tenth song in ACT II, I had to change into my work clothes ad bid the cast a silent adieu. They still had a half an hour to go and I couldn’t make it to the end with them. As I drove away with pains of sadness pumping through my limbs, I reflected on the night.

–          The make-up artist sang to me. She has a quiet and serene appearance and upon hearing that she had a powerful voice, I solicited a private concert. I danced around as the flickering fire inside her burned through her vocal chords and warmed me.

–          I share in over the moons groupie status as I peer off stage watching the fist pounder perform Out Tonight. No matter how many times I see it, it is as if I am at a concert for the first time. I jump up and down pumping my fist imagining that is how I will act if I ever end up going to see another artist in concert.

(Yes, I have never been to a convert).

–          My dance partner grabbed my shoulders and helped ease my anxiety as I paced nervously:

“Jeremy, you’ll be fine. Everything you do is a dance. Even when you walk it’s a dance”

She breathed confidence into my core.

–          Dancing back stage to the beginnings of the song Another Day has become the highlight of my lag time between scenes. Picture moves done by girls in poodle skirts, and men in leather jackets and white t-shirts, bobbing from side to side.

–          Cast members were excited about my picture in the paper. It was an alarming welcoming and I can’t fully grasp how amazing they are and how hard not being around them and seeing them every week will be.

And now that the real rehearsals are over, and we have preview tonight in front of a live audience, I can’t help but think of the past four months of my life wrapped up into this one moment in time (well, 9 moments in time)…

Where do we go from here?

With a cast like this, I’m looking up!


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