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Saturday morning, my DH surprised me with the option to attend the dress-rehearsal of some young-adult road-shows. “We have been strongly encouraged to attend this morning and support the rehearsal.” We would find out later that he should have been listening more at the meeting when he was busy taking notes.

I mentally blocked all the things I planned to do that day, and we left. When we arrived, a few adults were just standing around on the gymnasium floor. The young adults hadn’t shown up yet. I figured they would come in a different door soon. I located some chairs and asked my DH to help me set a few for us to sit in, facing the stage expectantly.  

That is when I was told that we were the rehearsal. We were going to be in the show. At the end of the night, after all the other groups had performed, the adult leaders and their spouses were the final scene. You know, the one that leaves a lasting impression?

Sheepishly I put my chair back and looked for an exit. And then I remembered what it’s like to be on the other end of things: trying to get youth to show up for such a rehearsal. And though it was dubious how much “support” I would prove to be, I stayed.

But the requirements got even better. We were going to learn a dance number. Say what?

Years ago, my sense of rhythm had been seriously questioned. I was asked to beat the bass drum for the band in the back of a pick-up during a short parade. How difficult could that be? I didn’t even have to concentrate on marching: left, left, left right left. Just bang it on the director’s beat. It proved difficult for me. “Susan, watch the baton, hit, hit, hit.” Finally they requested that I surrender the mallet.

Back in the gym Saturday morning, I lined up on the front row with the women, and thought to myself, They don’t know what they are asking.

In two hours we learned a sequence of steps and moves to the quick-paced song “Anything Goes.” Unfortunately, the idea that “anything goes” came with the caveat: only if it was in the choreography. I kept having flashbacks to my freshman year in college when I’d joined a dance team. It was a small college—there weren’t try-outs. Just coming got you a place on the team. Generally, only dancers came though. And me.

Saturday, I lined up on the end where I could stumble through my scissor kicks and Charleston steps without drawing too much attention. I was relieved that we weren’t asked to do the move where the guy swings the girl in a circle with her face coming within inches from the floor. Seriously. Do choreographers have a secret, evil society where they make these things up?

Saturday, the possibility of such a society received renewed credence in my mind when we were taught the finale.  The lines merged when the men came forward so that our “wave” would move from end to end. I no longer could keep a low profile to the far left, but was moved to center stage. And the moves went something like: step-bounce-kick, step-bounce-kick, spin and hit the ending with a pose. Excuse me, could you show me that again? But time was up. We’d spent too much time on the wave.

“Everyone be here tonight. Wear bright colors.” So that we’ll stand out right? Is black a bright color?

They videoed the practice so that we could watch it and remember the steps. But my living room faced the wrong way. . . From the video, I learned that some people are given the ability to perform. And the rest of us are more at home in the audience, applauding.

So that night we went, we watched, and we performed. And two things happened. The second was, I missed steps, went down when I should have stayed up, and to top it off, just when I needed a quick exit, they didn’t close the curtain. (We stood there in the spotlights for closing remarks and a prayer.)

. . .

But the first thing that happened, occurred while I was watching the ten young adult groups that were before us. It was then that I realized—deep down inside, past the superficial program in my hand—the night was about them. Some were talented, some not so much. But they all had a great time. We heard stories about their coming together for these shows. They reached out and brought in people that had not been involved before. They watched the movies together that they drew their music and dance numbers from: Foot Loose, West Side Story, etc. They bonded, and they entertained. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. The audience roared all night with laughter and applause.

Lesson learned: Next time I think I’m having a bad day, (though Saturday wasn’t ever really bad), it’s probably because I’ve focussed too much on me.

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