Posted on Monday 9th June, 2014
No West End stage for us. No lights, no make up, no live orchestra, no dimmed auditorium and rustle of programmes and sweet wrappers by an expectant audience. Our stage is not nearly so glamorous. A communal carpeted living room in a care home, our props neatly ready in the makeshift wings. Our audience though is just as expectant. Elderly residents, much older than I imagined, sitting patiently as we arrive.
The room is packed. An elderly lady in her best floral blouse comes shuffling in admiring our costumes, I'm worried there won't be room but the carers find her the last chair and she positions herself in the front row, beaming. At another home, Elsie, a 93 year old retired ballet teacher has recently had a stroke, her wish is to see children dance before she dies. She can't speak but as she signs her gratitude to us her eyes sparkle. One gentleman claps in time to the music the entire time as the Brown children perform their mischief and Nanny McPhee can't silence him with her magic stick!
At the end of our show Finn (our ballet mistress) asked if we could come and have a little chat with the residents. "I'd like that VERY much!" shouted an eager elderly gentleman. I am a little nervous going into a room full of people I don't know and striking up conversations but the residents are so keen to meet us and I try hard not to miss any of the quieter ones out. It was so nice dancing to an audience that weren't analysising our every move good or bad (like parents!) but just enjoyed having us there. I thought about all the happy times they'd had, that once they too had been young and many of them enjoyed dancing and wished I could have had more time to share those memories.
Today I realised anyone can go on stage and perform to a pitch black auditorium. Performing to these people and seeing their faces was a greater challenge. As we leave we turn and shout our goodbyes and wave so they know we are going. I feel happy to have given some little enjoyment to such lovely people and a little sad that they will be left lonely waiting for us to come back next year, and that some won't be there at all. As I go a little lady in sunglasses and a colourful scarf grabs my hand: "Go out and do something special with your life and share your talent with others". I feel like I've already started.
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