by Brenna Banister
OnStage preparing for our Season Four Performance.
After 17 years of dancing, whenever people ask me how I feel about an upcoming show I always reply, “Nervous.” And without fail, the response I always get is something along the lines of, “Don’t be nervous! You’ve been doing this forever! You’ll be great!” I always try to explain to people that I’m glad I’m nervous. People are always so confused by this explanation. “Why would you want to be nervous? You should just be confident.” But I’ve come to learn that confidence does not mean a lack of nerves and that I need to be nervous in order to perform well. I’ve also come to learn that very few people outside of the dance world can understand this.
I love the exhilaration of show week. I love the last rehearsals; whether they’re crazy stressful because the group wishes we had eight more weeks to practice, or just fun because we’ve been finished with the dance forever. I love seeing the juxtaposition of those last rehearsals in dress rehearsal, where it seems that without fail the pieces that have been done forever look and feel the worst, whereas the pieces that were finished just days ago come together amazingly. I love the feeling of sudden connected-ness with every dancer. Dancers who have never met before are suddenly in the same position and sharing a bonding experience. I live for the thrill of performing in front of an audience and quick changes (trust me, I anticipated that when I decided to be in five pieces!). I love the feeling of butterflies and the need to pee that instantly disappears once the lights come up and the music starts. I love spending the whole week thinking about the show; running the pieces in my head while I work, cook, eat, and even sleep.
Performing is one of my favorite things in the world. I lived for shows in high school, and took every opportunity I could to dance onstage. When I got to college being in a performance group wasn’t so easy. There were always dancers who were better than me and it seemed that I didn’t know the right people to even stand a chance of getting into anything. Plus, I had so much schoolwork to think about. I settled for taking classes, which I enjoy, but doesn’t lead to the same connections and benefits of a performance group. I was thrilled when I graduated and heard about OnStage, and clearly I jumped right in, choosing five pieces (after promising myself I’d do no more than three) for my first season. I couldn’t hold myself back, and I’m glad I didn’t. By participating in so many pieces, I am able to really reap the benefits of a performance group. I get to work on dances with a variety of different people. There is nothing like working together on a piece of art. It creates a type of camaraderie that I have yet to find anywhere else in this world. Jumping right in also allows me to really experience the performance aspect. After all, I see no point to being in a performance group if I’m just going to sit backstage for half the show!
This week is one of my favorite weeks. I get to brag to everyone I come across that it’s show week, and that they should come see me dance. I get to be proud of something and show everyone what that is. I get to experience the rush of being in front of a crowd. I get to connect with a group of dancers as we showcase something we’ve worked for 10 weeks to create. And I get to be nervous. Because despite what the common person believes, I need (and kind of like) to be nervous.
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