Journey to Hometown, Part 11


When the high intensity music begins, minutes after the scheduled start of the choreography rehearsal, the members of the ensemble of Hometown...The Musical! gravitate to their carved out spots on the floor and begin the process of warming it up and stretching it out.

My spot is at stage left, just in front of the keyboard where music director Susan Lexa is preparing for the rehearsal ahead and to the left of warm-up leader Nicole McMillan, one of the top-level performers with Generation Dance Studio, also a senior in high school.

I watch carefully, trying to coax my assorted limbs to somewhat emulate what she is doing in my peripheral vision and in the mirror which covers the entire wall in the rehearsal hall.  My preference is to avoid watching the reflected image as it just confuses me.  What I do looks awkward and unfinished compared to Nicole and her cadre of dancers who gracefully, and seemingly effortlessly, move from one position to the next.  They reach down and make full contact with the floor, the palms of their hands flat as pancakes giving the deck a gentle pat with their legs extended, straight as an arrow.  My hands don't make it quite so far, rather giving my shins a nice little rub, knees slightly bent.

The intensity and level of excursion build as we start a series pseudo sit-ups, focusing on our core, that ends with plank.  I stare straight ahead, my elbows, forearms and toes holding my 185-pound frame in a horizontal position just a few inches above the comforting floor below.  It seems like an eternity waiting for Nicole to begin her blessed countdown, giving us grace to drop our pelvises to the floor and move into a position that somewhat resembles cobra (I had to demonstrate to my wife this morning to put a name that wonderful pose).

I've said it more than once and perhaps mentioned it once or twice in this Journey to Hometown series, but I'm so grateful we have been joined on this adventure by the junior, intermediate and senior dancers from Generation Dance Studio.  They are infinitely generous with both their time and spirit, and so talented it makes my head spin.

I'm on the finishing stretch of learning all their names.  I made great progress during the pauses in the action last night, honing in on and memorizing the names Andrea, Lexi, Piper, Hanna, Haley, Morgan, Kaylen, Amanda, Emma, Chlaire, CJ, and Carly.  A number of names still manage to trip me up, Alyssa, Taylor, Leeanne, Sara, Ali, Shani,  and Grace among them, but I'm bound and determined to be name perfect - they deserve it, each and every one.

In the interest of total transparency, I almost wanted to walk away the other night as my mouth refused to operate while my brain was trying to remember new dance steps.  Singing and dancing at the same time felt  like trying to tap my head while rubbing my belly.  Thank goodness I'm surrounded by dancers like Julien Naud and Jon Cestnick who know exactly what they're doing.  I just watch them and do my best to keep up.

I guess the thing I need to remember is that it is only January19th.  We still have multiple weeks to figure this all out and thread it together.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow when we do our first stumble through of the whole thing.  To this point, we've only worked scattered scenes, songs and choreographed sections, jumping back and forth to different spots in the script.  A marvelous thing happens when we begin to see the shape of the finished theatrical tapestry.  The body and brain start to work to optimal efficiency as the intricacies and nuances of the show embed themselves into our muscle memories.  I look forward to the moment when I move out of the land of thinking and into the world of doing.  That will be a happy day!


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