'INTENSE' she says
That’s the atmosphere at dance class now. The emphasis has changed and we have moved into rehearsal mode instead. Suddenly there are discussions on placing and tech runs. We are putting on a professional performance and we will be ready. The Evil Empress of Dance has evolved into the High Priestess of Pain and Practice, Practice, Practice.
Repetition is the key to muscle memory and the choreography is being drilled into our reluctant bodies. The sheer physicality expected of a professional dancer astounds me: My strictly amateur body wants to go on strike. My muscles are crying, my feet are shredded, and even my hair hurts. My brain no longer recognises anything non dance related, and my almost non-existent numerical ability has moved to the minus side of every step count.
This group is amazing. We all treat the experience very differently. There’s the Tornado, wildly dynamic and fuelled by Duracell batteries and caffeine; the one who wants to fly; the Inquisitor who scrutinises everything; the chatterbox, covering up nerves with noise; and the quiet one in the corner, silently plotting.
We are self critical, analysing and refining, making positive changes where a step isn’t working. We have learned to be comfortable in each other’s personal space. Sometimes an encouraging touch from another is all you need. We take a breath and start again. We support each other without words. There’s no negativity, just positive reinforcement.
Philippa is treating us as equals, as actual dancers rather than as enthusiastic wannabees. As a unit we are working to showcase her vision of our stories. We have shared our life experiences. Now she propels us to be as involved and engaged with her work as she has been with ours.