I had a surreal day last Tuesday. Fi takes music lessons at a concert hall just outside of D.C. so after I drove her there, I found a comfy spot on the couch in the waiting room where I could binge-read for two hours. The waiting room was filled with beautiful people milling about – mostly dancers, a few musicians.
And me. The invisible SAHM sherpa-chauffer settling in to read my unsexy novel about North Korea, and do some more waiting. Occasionally I would look up from my book to admire the dancers and remember when I used to be an aerobics instructor and actually move my body, too. Sigh.
But wait: A TV crew came in! Cameras, producers, good looking people speaking into walkie-talkies in their collars, the whole 9 yards!
I perked up and closed my book. Suddenly my mom-life had become sexy and exciting! My little perch on the couch had become *the* front row seat to all the action! Apparently they were filming a new TV show called A Chance to Dance! that will air this summer!
Note: Before I killed my television last year one of my favorite TV shows was So You Think You Can Dance. I had a mild crush on Nigel Lythgoe, the producer, because I have a thing for sparky Brits named Nigel.
As they began setting up, I could barely contain myself. A friendly-looking crew member was standing near the couch so I said to her, “You’re from the television,” even though it made me sound like a paranoid-pschizophrenic. (“You’re from the television,” – who says that? A mom who’s been in solitary confinement in her minivan for the last 8,000 years being forced to hear Scooby Doo DVDs and who has bed sores from all the driving, that’s who!) Despite my over-eager SAHM vibe she sat beside me to chat! OMG! Turns out she was the lawyer from the show making sure everything was legal and that anyone they filmed signed a release form.
She told me all about the show – apparently these two ruggedly handsome British guys known as BalletBoyz were going to choreograph the show, and they had just come from auditions at the Kirov Ballet in D.C., and were doing more auditions the next day.
And then! She asked me if I knew any dancers who are at least 18 years old and “amazing” who might want to show up for the audition in the morning!
My mind scrambled. I knew of no one. No one, except…my children.
Of course the stage-mother in me kicked into ridiculous.
I told her that my own little darlings were 7 and 10-year-old Irish dancers but that I could probably dress them up to make them look like they were on their way to some day being 18 and since they had done a Baby Ballet and Tap class a few year ago, we could probably throw in some jazzy-ballet moves and make them move their arms…would that work?
I think at this point she probably regretted sitting beside me, and realized that when you sit beside a harmless-looking stay-at-home-mom she might actually be so fed up with Zaboomafoo videos and playing chauffer that she will lurch at you and talk too much like I did, and Cheezits may even fall out of her bra. And she may offer you one. I launched into my spiel about how my 10-year-old is practically a prodigy on the violin, blah-blah-blah, brag-brag-brag, and wouldn’t it be something if they did a TV show about kid violinists featuring my kid? I noticed a British man – blonde – standing near the desk. Since I had killed my TV last year I couldn’t quite place him but I later found out it was Nigel only with his hair flat-ironed. What this means is, because of a flat-iron I missed my chance to pitch my “Fiona & Ella’s Family-Style Concerto Variety Show” idea to Mr. Lythgoe.
To my astonishment she then asked me if I wanted to be filmed sitting on the couch when the cameras came in through the door to show the waiting room on their way into the studio! I think she was probably trying to distract me from cornering Nigel with my violin-TV-pilot idea. She held out a release form.
My mind raced. Could I do this? Could I pull that kind of a reality-TV performance out of the bowels of my very soul, without even a single rehearsal?
Since I had just gotten a blow-dry at the salon, and was wearing my black cashmere turtle (very film noir!) and my lips were ready for their pouty cameo with my Burt’s Bees Watermelon lip balm, I said yes and signed the form! FAME was MINE.
Meryl Streep, watch your back!
She left me alone – probably she understood that I needed to get into character. I closed my eyes and pictured how I would not just sit on the couch, I would own it. I would work the couch using the Stanislavky method even though I had no idea what that was.
After several minutes of working the couch I began to get nervous. I kept getting interrupted by flashbacks of the stage fuck-ups I had as a child:
- Age 5: I was the Cinderella who froze as soon as the curtains went up. I forgot all my lines, all of them. They had to stop the play (but I looked magnificent in that dress!)
- At violin recitals I got so nervous that all the moms in the audience could see my knees visibly shaking over my knee socks.
- Once at a piano recital – again for the yawning moms — I was playing a song on a grand piano and somehow that little pole that holds up the piano top came down and the piano slammed shut on itself. It scared the crap out of me and I ran out.
- There was that terrible night at the Talent Show at Summer Camp when my “friends” convinced me that my Elvis impersonation of “Come On Baby Light My Fire” (which isn’t even an Elvis song, it’s a Doors song) would “bring the house down.” Well it did not. After I was done – after I had jumped off of a table hoping to land dramatically on my knees but landed instead on my face, you could only hear silence and crickets chirping. You could hear hundreds of kids wondering if I was alright upstairs. It was that bad.
Back on the couch, instead of using my time wisely and getting into character, I had allowed my past pathetic attempts at performing to distract me. It was clear though: this was my chance.
I had to pull it together.
The energy in the room was palpable. All the ballerinas went into the studio to start warming up – things were starting to happen. Meanwhile on the couch, I got dry mouth. I had a frog in my throat. I began to panic: suddenly I couldn’t remember that I had no lines. What was I going to do? Who the fuck was Stanislavsky and where was he when I needed him? I could hear crickets chirping all around me. My film noir turtle neck got unbearably hot and itchy: I was sweating.
They started filming – the whole group of them and the camera man went out the door to film coming back into the waiting room where I was sitting. My mind went blank! The camera was rolling! How could they expect me to work in these circumstances, to perform?! I jumped off the couch and told the lawyer that I had changed my mind – I couldn’t do it. I mumbled that I was sorry for interrupting the filming but that I had to get some water and I ran out. They had to stop filming for about 1.5 nannoseconds, and then start again.
I hadn’t even started my film career and already I was behaving like a petulant Diva.
I disappointed myself – I forfeited my 15 seconds of fame which would have ended up on the cutting room floor anyway. But it was WAY better than reading my book and being an invisible sherpa-mom!
Here is a link to the show: http://www.achancetodance.tv/
Linking up with Yeah Write, as usual!
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