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The 100 Steps Ballet

The 100 Steps Ballet
By Aurelie Gandilhon
Editors Note: Translated from French

 

Tik, Tak, Tik, Tak, stand-by 15 and here we go!

It finally is opening night! This new show’s very first encounter with an audience. Months of hard work will pay off in exactly 15 minutes. Without a doubt, the world’s longest! The curtains will rise and unveil the magic if everything goes according to plan. Performers, creators, and spectators have been waiting for this day for weeks. The adrenaline is very tangible, almost celebratory backstage during those last minutes that precede that leap of faith.

Tik, Tak, Tik, Tak, that 100 Steps Ballet begins.

It really is a show before the show, a magical moment where we’re still safe, behind that thick piece of fabric. A magical, but also frightening moment as turning back no longer is an option. The stage turns into some form of time bubble where each and every one is focused, nervous, moved, inspired, and impatient. Only a few minutes before we let go and offer it to those who showed up, curious. Some stay behind, in their little corner, headphones covering their ears, endlessly repeat their steps like zombies.

Others turn to an abs workout, some splits or pirouettes to release stress. Costumes are getting pulled and stretched in every direction, while buttons are counted and tested.

The soloist warms up by humming a few notes and making funny noises… “HIIII HU HuHU HAHAHAH HUHU IOUËOUOIU!” What unusual beasts we have got on stage! I’m thrilled to be here to witness such a unique moment where everything stands still, suspended in mid-air. I’m doing my very best to remain calm and reassure my dear artists, if only to avoid shaking like a leaf! Technicians are in place, fixing those last remaining details and adjusting their mic and headphones in the wings.

Tik , Tak, Tik, Tak, “5 minutes!” is called in my ear.

Tension builds up as the audience can be heard coming in and taking their seats. A few of us unsuccessfully try to get a peek at them from under the curtain.

The 100 Steps Ballet grows bigger, gains in intensity. Like caged lions we go from stage right to stage left, covering the Marley with our “paws. ” Crossing one another without talking, exchanges are solely made through our eyes to avoid breaking our partner’s concentration.

Tik, Tak, Tik, Tak, Tik, Tak, and here comes the “3 minutes!” call.

I immediately share out loud so that soloists take their place. 2 minutes! Security lights go down and the stage is now pitch black. 1 minute! Tension is at its paroxysm as my tensed finger reaches for the curtain’s remote control.

I can feel my heart beating all the way up to my ears. Last look around me to make sure that everyone is in place, one last gaze at my dear artists until my eyes go down to the ground, waiting for the ultimate “GO!” The 100 Steps Ballet ends when that last cue is finally given. One show ends and lets another one begin.

Also by Aurelie Gandilhon:

10 Tips for a Props Manager Running an International Team

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