No, you don’t understand. The feeling when you’re waiting by the stage, ready to jump in, swirl, sway, swirl again, jump high, higher, and fall in perfect synchrony with the music. Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Prokofiev. All of them trusted in you, trusted in you for transforming their musical pieces in mesmerizing movements. Your muscles have to be in tension, but not too tense. Your mind must be focused, but you also need to lose yourself in the melody. Only race car drivers know the feeling. Like them, us ballet dancers get anxious before a performance -but when we finally get on the racetrack, on stage, we become one. We don’t drive a car, we drive our bodies. Feet, calves, legs, knees. Fingers, hands, arms. Head. Eyes. Mind. The Swan Queen, The Sleeping Beauty -all they have in common is us. Our bodies, our techniques, our sore feet, our blisters, our tears. All they have in common is the ballet.
This one time, I was waiting by the stage, waiting to join our prima ballerina. No, I still wasn’t that good, but one day I would. Today, I had to follow a pack, blend in in perfect harmony with the other dancers. One mistake, and I’d be out of the company. “No more mistakes”, had said the director. I fucked up the previous night, I fucked up in rehearsals. But tonight I would not fuck up again. I would give my everything and, like that cliché film the Black Swan, I would be perfect.
Our queue was close. I felt my heart-rate speeding up and my muscles tensing up. I was second in line, but I knew what the ballerina in front of me was feeling. She surely was as anxious as I was, observing the dancers on stage, following the music and ready to jump in when needed like a reliable relief.
I would not fuck up this time. I took a deep breath and jumped in.