Carole Shashona's Healthy Life & Style

I leave the world behind, my problems, my family, my everyday life as I enter backstage to the theatre. A world of dreams, beauty and imagination to embrace me. I join the lines of dancers entering stage left, chattering and nervous. With numbers on my chest identifying me, I cross center stage to warm up. Master lesson – warm up to prepare yourself for new opportunities. “Clap Clap-Line up,'' I'm amongst the many, some staying in the background as I bravely edge to the front line. The lead dancer walks forward to center and we begin. Master lesson-position yourself to be noticed. Jazz hands- step forward, toes to the count the beat 1, 2, 3. Again, I hear the chords of the piano stage right my body responds and resonates Toes in, Arched back, Jazz hands “Exaggerate the Pose and Stop.”

A masculine voice echoes its strong and vibrant. A figure emerges from the shadows of the theatre I recognize Jerome Robbins entering, illuminated by the lights as he strides forward, “watch my lead dancer” he commands. My eyes stretch upward in silent prayer to the heavens, in reality, to the stage lights. Master lesson – Listen to instructions given, this is to help you know what is expected of you.

From that moment on the dance line quickly depletes until we are in line of 12, I wonder what will the final lineup count be? Will I be in or out? “Clap Clap” releases me from my fears and doubts. I place my hands on my hips and walk slowly backstage to towel off, reclaiming my body to relax. I slide to the floor with a barre above me as silent surrounds. “Wait.” Master lesson – Patience is key, when selections are being made, think positive. I take this wait time to redirect my mind from fear to outward manifestations. I take notice of the chairs in the audience, the first two rows are filled with people, rustling papers – mimicking the clock as seconds turn to minutes.

I look around to fellow dancers auditioning. Is this what’s called, “Team Spirit?” I ask myself. I notice we are all joined in fear, frustration and the love of dance. But not only is auditioning about our abilities, the reality is we are also judged by our appearance. I question myself, “Am I too fat, or too thin? Too tall or too short? Too blonde or brunette? What nationality is needed? Do I fit in, not only in ability but as a unit?”

Reality sets in, I realize now this is my solo journey. My challenge to believe in myself and my accomplishments that brought me here. It’s certainly not group therapy, but my individual journey. Master lesson- accept the challenges and notice your achievement that brought you to this point. My love of dance, my accomplishment, my goals are in place and I realize then and now, I’m ready to become a professional dancer. Master lesson – Be ready to perform and show your stuff.

I am a matador entering the ring, facing the bull. I enter to center stage – “I am Solo.” Pose with Jazz hands upwards, Arched back, Head forward and Eyes focused on the audience, I fear not. The piano sounds as I dance. Again- to the best of 1, 2, and 3 Turn. Head up then I hear, “Stop! Wait.” Fear grips me like a chord choking my emotions. My gaze follows Jerome Robbins as he leaves with his lead dancer following. Replacing him is Patrick with his clipboard in hand, signaling me-Congratulates me! My spirits soar; he says, “The call sheet time is Studio 10, 7:30 AM, be there”. Master lesson – Practice, Practice, Acknowledge Acceptance.

I look to my left and then to my right. We are now a family of 9, laughter escapes my lips with joy, sound surrounds us as we hug and kiss. I’m now recognized as a “Jet” dancer in the New York team of the movie, West Side Story.

I gather my bag quickly to join others as we leave the theater. It’s time to re-enter the world and reality. The doors quickly open to the pelting sounds of rain, hitting the sidewalks. I question myself as I walk out – “Is that applause I hear?”. Master lesson – Don't give up, carry your Dreams to Reality.

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