I’m sitting onstage, barefoot, rolling imaginary cigars on my tightless thighs to the firey score of Carmen. I look out into the rows and rows of plush red seats that I know are there but can’t see because they’re draped in that familiar black opening night blanket. Absently, I contemplate the misguiding apparent endlessness of the house. So much space. The dancer next to me springs up off her stool, flinging her lycra skirt up with her, subsequently hitting me in the face and reminding me to listen for my cue. These next few counts of eight have not yet worked their way into the overstuffed suitcase of my muscle memory. This next sequence of beautifully obscure movements requires that I focus on nothing else but this. When I finally hear my golden note, it doesn’t come as a surprise; I’ve listened for this cue every day for weeks. Concentrate. I toss my invisible half-rolled cigar behind me and jump to my feet. Running towards Kristina, my partner in this little pas de deux, I notice she looks different. Then, in an instant, she comes closer, and I see it’s not Kristina rushing my way, it’s me. Slightly confused, I continue towards center stage, this is the professional approach briefly floods my mind. Now I’m on the center X, face to face with me, partnering myself and making my own mirror. Before I have the chance to catch my own gaze, I assume the vision of the immense audience and I’m starting to realize this is not real. I am not here.
I wake myself up. I’m lying in bed. It doesn’t take long for my harsh reality to set in: I am not in the midst of performing Plotnikov’s Carmen. I have not danced in over 3 months. I have a stress fracture in my spine. My heart drops past the broken bone into my hips. It’s strange how some dreams only become nightmares after you wake up.
These dance withdrawals get worse with every passing day outside the studio. Today I was surprised with the less-than-spectacular news that I may have multiple fractures in my back. Yippee. My optimism is waning. I just want to dance. I’m clinging to any and all hope I can. Some dancers spend years recovering from their injuries, I tell myself. But this just suggests these few months may only be the tip of the iceberg. How do I put an end to the ghosts of performances past haunting my sleep? I guess I could stop watching so many dance-related videos before bed. But they do help fill that big empty dance gap! So what’s a girl to do?