My son was in his first middle school playlet last week. They had teams of students who directed and choreographed a number to a musical theater song. There were pieces from Hairspray, Grease, High School Musical and yes, Mamma Mia. He was nervous about it, even talking to me about what would happen if he freaked out and had stage fright.
We discussed the energy of pre-show, how its kind of like a horse you learn to ride or a wave you learn to surf. I didn’t think he bought it, but I knew he just had to experience it.
And he did. His group went on fifth, in a large theater auditorium filled with parents, friends and many middle schoolers. He was just wonderful, hitting all his dance marks and showing up well on stage (and most importantly, just doing it). I have to admit that I had one of those teary “mom” moments but it was also a moment where you see the ability to be on stage light up in someone.
It’s like, once you’ve felt it, what it feels like to be up there, flowing in and out of thought, body, energy. When you keep hitting the beats, keep the energy between you, your fellow performers, your audience, not dropping the ball being both in your head and also being filled in by the text and music…well, then you know it. It belongs to you, that feeling, and it’s always yours.
You still might feel fearful about being onstage, but you know you’ve ridden that wave, that power is part of you now. And it’s a wonderful magic to have inside you.
We talked about that a little after the show, mostly with him looking at me like…what? But I didn’t really care. I saw the power of being able to ride that wave settle inside him, and it will belong to him forever, no matter if he uses it or not.
It was an amazingly cool thing to see.