It’s fairly well-known that no one says “good luck” in the theater.  It’s an old taboo, claiming that the phrase actually brings quite the opposite of what is intended.  So, in the acting field, “good luck” has been replaced with the rather obscure saying “break a leg!”.  Obviously, borrowing this well-wisher would not fly with ballet dancers.  A broken leg is career-ending, not something to discuss moments before curtain.  Soooo in the world of ballet, we say “merde”.

If you’ve taken any french, you may know that this actually means “shit”…doesn’t seem like the best word to be exchanging backstage does it?  “hey, tegan, merde!”…”thanks, you too! merde!”  Yes it’s weird.  Yes we know.  Yes we do it anyway.  There’s some superstition that if you’ve already said the worst there is to say backstage, nothing worse can happen onstage.  I’m not sure how true any of it is, but I’m not willing to risk finding out!  So wish me “merde” on my first show this morning!  AH!

4 thoughts on “merde

  1. I’ve heard that the thought process behind “merde” is that it is what dancers might say if they stub their toe backstage/injure themselves in some other way before the show and cannot dance.
    Thus, if someone wishes you “merde,” they’re saying it for you, somehow guaranteeing you that you will be able to have a wonderful show.
    I always thought the idea was kinda odd, but that it creates a nice sense of community as everyone goes around cussing at each other in French haha…
    In any case, MERDE! :)

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