Blistery

Have been busy dancing the last couple of weeks; I was in Philippine Ballet Theatre’s repeat of Le Corsaire. I was in the corps de ballet as a pirate, a flower (in the Pasha’s dream, known as Jardin Anime, in the ballet world) and a member of the Pasha’s harem.  When I joined the show, I wasn’t very involved in it, juggling rehearsals with school and my two big projects of the last couple months. I was just in the corps, I told myself. It wasn’t anything very important, I would shrug when I missed a rehearsal for whatever reason.

You could say I’m a bit out of performing shape – although I’ve not stopped dancing these last 2 years, I have to admit it’s not the same as when I was dancing full time and every day. During the first show, my heels chafed too much against my pointe shoes and I now have two formidable blisters, one on each heel. The blister on the left is pea-sized and hurt a little bit. The blister on the left was as big as my thumb and was almost unbearable. Although I didn’t tell a lot of people about them, I worried about how I was going to dance with these bleeding blisters. In my youth, I was quite used to high levels of pain, but I’ve not had a blister – nor had to dance with one – in ages.

Turns out, I had forgotten a small phenomenon that I was quite acutely aware of in my youth – adrenalin. The right blister was abominable to me in the Pirate sequence (but that was really messed up: to have to stay onstage for most of Act I and to start zumba-style dancing at the end of the act with your muscles all cold and groggy, arrrr…) and was bleeding through my tights during the intermission. How was I going to get through the rest of the ballet? But as soon as I stepped onstage in my pink tutu (yes, I was in a pink tutu, I’m still dumbstruck about that), the pain went away and I was able to dance.

While my heel heals, I have to remember those two days and how they seem to mirror what I’ve learned about life in general: the good outweighs and even cancels out the bad. I really did love temps leve-ing in my pink tutu.

After the show, during the usual meet-and-greet with the audience, I was getting a bit weary and the pain was creeping back into my heel. While I tried not to limp around the CCP main theater lobby, this kid comes up to me and asks, “Ate, masakit?” basically asking me if my feet were in pain. I sucked it up and said, “No, when you’re dancing, it’s actually magical.”

One of our board members then joined us with a bunch of other kids and told the boys, “You want to feel the shoe? It’s hard. You’ll see why she can stand on her toes.” And there in the middle of the main theatre lobby, under the lavish chandeliers, in my yellow two-piece harem costume, these five boys took turns touching my Gaynor Mindens, ooh-ing and aah-ing and wondering if they were made of steel. And then Madam Board Member took our picture.

I was just in the corps but I realize I loved being on that stage, never mind what I was dancing, never mind that I had a blister bigger than my USB drive on my heel. I realize that to the people watching, they didn’t care what role I had, they thought I was badass for being able to stand on my toes. And I realize that the stage felt more like home than any office or conference room, perhaps even more than a classroom or a library. And so, I am resolved to keep at this while I can, to remember that it’s important, and why it’s important – among many other reasons I’ve already pointed out, simply, because it makes me happy.

One day at a time, for the rest of my life. It’s on.

onstage

Photo by Bianca Trocino, after warm up class onstage on Day 2 of Le Corsaire.

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