If you looked in the window at eight in the morning during those five weeks, you would see the 17 of us — all rising seniors dressed in black and white, brought together by pure love of theatre — lying on our backs. A tall man with salt and pepper hair would be standing barefoot in the middle of the room, talking us through our morning yoga. Slowly, you would see us begin to move.
You would see us cycle through downward dog and cobra pose, and then flip to our backs for our daily ab workout. When our limbs got close to giving out, we would quickly shuffle away, rolling up our multi-colored yoga mats and trying to take a sip of water in the 30 seconds that we’d been gifted. You would see us congregate in a circle in the center of the room and watch as the gray-haired man handed each of us a long, cylindrical stick. Maybe, if you squinted, you could see our eyes, focused so closely on the tops of our sticks as we attempted to balance them on our hands, elbows, and knees, but after 15 seconds or so, we’d dash across the room in an attempt to conquer gravity — you’d see us learn that there were some forces even we could not beat.
And so with five weeks of dancing, failing, and breathing under my belt, I stepped barefoot onto the stage of the Josephine Louis Theatre. In the second before the darkness turned to purple spotlights, with the fake fog swirling around my head, I breathed. I inhaled the truth of my character; her dreams, her fears, and the things that made her human. My lungs filled with the dusty air, full of energy from the audience and my castmates. I exhaled and let the fear of failure roll off my shoulders, knowing that nothing — not a hasty quick change, a stumble, or an unstable lift — could keep me from giving every drop of humanity I had to telling that story. And with the confidence that I was born to be on that stage, I turned toward the light, and the play began.