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I’ve been a lot of different people in my seventeen years of life. I’ve been a tap dancing mouse chased by shrieking female cats, a 1950s teenager with greased-back hair, a sailor on 24-hour shore-leave in New York City seeking love and a good time, and a Polish street gang member lurking around dark alleys and knocking out rival gang members with my impressive right hook.
The stage is what allowed me to become so many people.
My love of performing can be traced as far back as first grade. Sure, at the time I still thought I was going to be the starting shortstop for the New York Yankees, but even at my baseball games I used to practice my dance moves in the dugout, performing single, double, and triple time steps in my rubber cleats. As part of an all-boys dance class, I even schlepped an hour both ways on the subway to the Alvin Ailey School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where I studied dancing, exploring styles everywhere from the elegant curves and lines of ballet to the rapid, athletic movements of West African.
But my first experience with the stage really began with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, a group I was a part of for seven years. Always in awe of the beauty and history of the venues we performed at, such as Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, and Carnegie Hall, I was even lucky enough to perform with the likes of Elton John, John Legend, and Alicia Keys, and take part in the World Choir Games in Graz, Austria, all experiences that taught me the professionalism and work ethic required in the performing business.
As I have grown as a performer however, the significance of the stage has evolved. Indeed, when winter rolls around and it’s time to begin work on my high school’s musical, the theater becomes my workplace. I persistently pursue perfection of my character alongside the constant clamoring of my fellow cast mates learning new singing parts, trying out new dance moves, or acting out important scenes. I also have the challenge of helping the less experienced dancers in the show master the material. As dance captain of the musical, I know that I’ve done my job well when all of the members of the cast look their best and I’m exhausted at the end, unable to do another pirouette, or kick-step-jump sequence.
By performance day, the stage has already, over a period of months, seen me sweat, become incredibly frustrated, and sometimes bleed (fake blood of course). But in the end, the stage is there for me, giving me a platform to unleash all of the excitement I have bottled up over weeks of difficult rehearsals. Costumes, previously hung neatly on racks, are thrown on in excitement and microphones are taped meticulously in place; then, finally, practiced notes, perfected combinations, and completed scenes all come together. The curtain opens, the sea of faces focuses on the stage, and for the duration of the performance, I am a tap dancing mouse, a 1950s teenager with gelled hair, a romance-seeking sailor, or a rowdy troublemaker, looking for a fight.
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