#19 It’s only an illusion

I’m no beauty but I am cute.  Or at least I was cute when I was younger.  The illusions that we create on stage with movement, lighting, acting and stage makeup have always amazed me.  I have seen truly ugly women transform themselves into doe eyed beauties with stage makeup.  I was touring through France and within the evening’s program, I had an in-your-face sexy solo in a blue dress.  Now if you knew what I looked like then (which is a less wrinkled version of today’s model), you’d know that the phrase “sex symbol” has never been applied to me.  My first director had always said that I looked like a football player who had wandered into a ballet studio.  After my blue solo, the evening’s performance would wrap up and I would head backstage to remove the makeup and get dressed for the return to the hotel.  At the stage door would inevitably be a group of audience members who wanted either autographs or to talk to a specific performer.  Someone would usually grab my arm and ask me “Where is the girl who did the sexy blue solo?”  There I was, with my thin mousy brown hair, which was now plastered to my head from my recent shower, big thick glasses and a colorless complexion from having not reapplied any makeup.  “She’s still inside,” I would tell them.  They would thank me and turn back expectantly to the stage door.  I would saunter off to the hotel.  Did I mention that I was an introvert and that meeting new people was not big on my list?

I was working in Vancouver and one of the dancers got injured.  The director called me to her and announced that I was going to take over her role in one work, which involved a beautiful duet with Adam.  Now, Adam and I really didn’t get along too well.  He was forever correcting me and I found that avoiding him was the easiest way for me to go.  I begged the director to leave me in my present position and let someone else dance with Adam.  She told me that I was the only one in the company who had the technical ability to handle the role.  It was going to be a long and painful rehearsal period.  Nobody likes to be in a situation where they are nagged at all day long.  That night I came up with a solution.  The next day I went to Adam and said “You know Adam, I am so afraid of doing this role.  I’m not a very good dancer and I don’t think that I can handle this technically.”  Adam’s eyes widened.  He put a hand on my shoulder and said “Don’t worry, I’ll help you get through this.”  With that we began a nice working relationship.  I danced the way I wanted to and Adam, thinking that I was doing the best that I possibly could, followed my lead.  This is a beautiful duet.  Soft, lyrical and loving, full of off-balanced turns and lifts.  Really quite nice to dance.  With Adam under control, I threw myself into the role heart and soul.  After our first public performance, I noticed a change in Adam.  I would catch him watching me with this expression on his face that I could only describe as wishful longing and kind of freaky.  We were passing each other in the theatre hall and Adam reached out to catch my arm.  “I never knew that we had such a strong connection.  I could really feel your love for me out there.”  “Yeah,” I replied.  As I walked away, again I was struck by the power of illusion for both the viewer and the participants.  And for the record – I didn’t fall in love with Adam.  That’s called acting.

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