Cat’s Dance Story – Part Two
Welcome back to Unscripted! Since you’ve returned, I have to assume I neither scared you off nor bored you to tears. I can only hope you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for…more of my dance story! Cause that’s what you’re getting! Let’s get back into it…
In February of 2000, I was asked by my friend Dianne to attend her audition for NarroWay Productions as moral support. If I could go back and tell my 19-year-old self how that one night would change my life, I don’t think I would believe myself.
As I waited for my friend, the woman in the lobby helping with the NarroWay auditions noticed me standing around. Somehow, she saw through my huge JNCO pants, what I’m sure was the smallest t-shirt I owned, and my angst-ridden teenager facial expression, and asked if I was a performer.
I answered noncommittally, “I mean, I guess.”
Not one to be put off, she asked, “Do you sing or act?”
I think I shrugged again and said, “I can act. And I dance.”
That was the first time I’d ever said, out loud, to another person that I dance.
The woman asking the questions was Donna Patterson. And when she heard that I was a performer of any kind, she went into recruitment mode. Because, at that time, NarroWay Productions was only three years old, and Donna is not one to let an opportunity walk out the door. So she asked if I would be willing to audition.
Not being at all prepared, I said something about not having an audition ready. Then I remembered that I had written and memorized a monologue the week before for either school or church or just to scream in my car–I’m not sure. I mentioned that and, somehow, this conversation ended in Donna going to her car, retrieving a tape of a Christian worship song that I don’t remember, and me agreeing to audition.
Call it fate. Call it kismet or destiny, but the next hour changed my life. I went into the old studio on the former PTL grounds and performed an extremely melodramatic monologue, sang something (horribly, I’m sure), and danced to Donna’s worship track. That night, for the first time in my life, I danced for other people without fear, or hesitation, or worry about what might happen after. Those watching didn’t think dance was silly. That it was a waste of time. They didn’t make me feel self-conscious or say I didn’t have a dancer’s body or a ballerina feet. In those three minutes, everything else was stripped away and all that was left was the confirmation of what I’d known all along. I am a dancer.
It would be cool if I could tell you that after my audition with NarroWay, I became an incredibly famous dancer. But I didn’t. I actually became something much, much better than that. At least, for me. I became a professionally trained, consistently working dancer for a local theater company. And, as far as I was concerned, that was a pretty sweet deal.
NarroWay Productions is a Christian theater company located in Fort Mill South Carolina, just south of Charlotte, North Carolina. There, I got to dance year-round, in lots of different styles, for audiences of as many as 3000 people. And I’m not exaggerating. I performed many shows at Christmas for audiences of at least 3000 people. I also performed in shows like Jesus the Teacher, where I did traditional Jewish dance, Not Just Another Love Story and Geronimo, where I got to do everything from country and western, to lyrical, to traditional ballet. In the show Lord of Light, I had the opportunity to train as an aerialist and perform on the silks, Cirque-du-Soleil-style.
And every year, in The Real Christmas Story, I got to dance a pointe solo in the song “Angels Among Us.”
If you are familiar with the song “Angels Among Us” by Alabama, it’s originally kind of a country song. But our composer and music director, Yvonne “Birdie” Clark, created her own arrangement of the song for The Real Christmas Story, and it is absolutely beautiful. Instead of a country song, in our show, it’s more of a power ballad that’s perfect for a ballet pointe solo. In 2003, I had the privilege of creating that solo, and for 15 years, I danced it. After a quick calculation, I probably danced that pointe solo for over 100,000 people over all those years. For a local dancer who’s average at ballet, that’s a pretty amazing thing.
Now, the pointe solo is only about a minute long, but every time I danced, it was one of the greatest minutes of my life. You see, the song “Angels Among Us” is about the people in your life who make a difference, whether it’s for a minute, a decade, or a lifetime. It’s dedicated to those who are still with us and those who have already passed on. And over the 15 years that I danced that pointe solo, I danced it for many, many, many angels who walked among us. No matter what age I was, what was going on in my life at the time, or how I felt that day, I danced that one minute solo with absolutely everything I had in me. I credit every compliment I’ve ever gotten to the fact that I never just went through the motions. It meant something. Every. Single. Time.
During the years from my NarroWay audition in 2000 until 2018, I danced in other places, too. I danced in church. I danced at marketing events, conventions, and conferences. I performed several other pointe solos and lyrical duets. I was always ready to dance. I even had the honor of dancing in NarroWay‘s pre-show for a few years when we performed outdoors. I figured I would dance most of my life. I knew, theoretically, that I would probably have to stop at some point…like when I was 60 or 70 years old. But I planned to be the oldest dancer that NarroWay, and any other theater, had ever seen. But life was going to throw me a curveball.
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And, as always, remember to love one another. Love blindly, boldly, and without bounds.