Thursday, February 26, 2009

Could've Been a Lady

And the dance continued. On and on, our merry band wending its way through the holiday camps and leisure centres of the land. A travelling band of Minstrels paving a scorched path of dance and mystical magic, Two weeks extended into four, Guido and Stephanie delighted at the success of the show and their reintroduction into Showbiz Society. Bob and Jean the only casualties, press ganged at a coastal venue into a return to the Choppy Main and a new challenge demonstrating the Magic of Ballroom to seafarers on the P&O ferry “Pride of Bilbao” while battling the rise and fall of the Bay of Biscay.

After the initial giddiness of running away with a dance circus had diminished I settled down to a steady routine of life on the road. Seven shows a week, each night a new venue. Wake early in wherever we are staying, into the minibus and van and on to the next venue by midday. Set up in the afternoon, quick run through of performance, back to digs for meal and change, back to venue. Perform, glasses of fizz to acknowledge triumph, pack van, sleep. Same again. Monotonous though it may sound, it was all still relatively new to me. Other hoofers had their own ways of dealing with the repetitious days, To Sweaty Pauline, a new day, a new palm. Khan Astrologer of Doom lived the part twenty four seven, doom lay all around. Guido and Stephanie were under the most pressure, onstage for over half of the show and troupe leaders; they are busier than most, but as yet, no cracks showing. The biggest surprise to everyone, performers and audiences alike, has been Ivanka. The cross dressing Cossack has gone down a storm every night, and has displaced Khan as the penultimate act of the show; a move that Khan had predicted a week ago. The two continue to share a room, Khan confident in his prediction that Taurean Ivanka will be usurped amidst fire and thunder, and no good will come of this change in the running order.

Ivanka has grown into her role, and may have had his/her head turned by this elevation in status. Keen to attain the next stage of gender realignment he/she put in a request for an increased performance fee. Guido and Stephanie quietly reminding him/her of visa regulations in the UK and what they do to cross gender Cossacks in the barracks of the Caucasus.

This was the first real incident of creative tension between Troupe leaders and the popular Cossack who held the belief that he was fast becoming the future of Light Entertainment. At that night’s performance the air crackled with creative tension. Khan foreseeing trouble repeated his prediction of Fire and Thunder to the troupe and as I moved into Svetlina mode and climbed the stage I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that all was not well.

Blending Science, Art and Dance, the routine begins with me assuming the position of Vitruvian man behind a large circular screen. I am displayed en silhouette, standing still for thirty seconds before the first Doo Doo Doo of the title music from Tales of the Unexpected strikes up. For the next thirty seconds it is a slow swaying of hips with arms outstretched, the arms are than introduced for two minutes of free style swaying before finishing in the position of Bruce Forsyth’s “The Thinker” As Guido has commented, it is a stunning opening that could only be improved by the addition of a full orchestra.

Returning to the dressing room and slipping out of my Lycra body stocking, the tension remained. Pauline was now on stage after some nifty sword work from Willie Watson. Glistening with palmistry pride she had maintained her run of discovering a Dragon Slayer on every day of the week, a surprise to Pauline who had only ever previously come across them at the weekends.

Next came Khan, keen to regain his place as number two in the line up, he was carrying out on the spot readings for whoever was born under the sign that the Sun currently happened to be in. In Astrological terms death defying stuff, the audience struck dumb by Khan’s reading for the man who had his birthday the next day,predicting the death of his cat in the morning and a particularly nasty and messy event late in the day on the way back from a celebratory evening out.

Ivanka followed on. A staid performance, in which he/she seemed to be holding back, a going through of the Cossack motions, just doing enough in a Russian Steppes kind of way that did not quite match previous performances. Then It was Guido and Stephanie. Freestlye Salsa movements from opposite sides of the stage, each night a new move, electrifying stuff that drew gasps from the audience. A sensual Rhumba to follow and then a super Samba, lost in a dance bubble they carried the audience away on a magic Latin carpet. Completely transfixed no one noticed the subtle change in beat. Ivanka irked by her pay dispute and emboldened by Oestrogen, was in control of the music and had skilfully segwayed the music to a new track, storming the stage with a high and low kicking Cossack routine to Hot Chocolate’s “You Could’ve Been a Lady”

Professional to the last, Guido and Stephanie adjusted to the change in beat and proceeded to dance the ladyboy Cossack from the spotlight, escorting him via a routine of tangoesque rushes to the side of the stage where he/she became wrapped in the stage curtain, eventually pulling the curtain down with a crash along with several lighting units.

“Fire and Thunder I tell you! Fire and Thunder! AAAGGHHH!”

boomed Khan as he dashed across the stage arms outstretched in a diversionary tactic that pleased all the audience bar one, who returned home to check on his cat and cancel his birthday celebrations. Guido and Stephanie took the applause and we all returned for the end of show Hokey Cokey except for Ivanka.

I don’t know where this leaves the tour now, Ivanka is piqued at his/her treatment and failure to achieve top billing. Khan has yet to predict the end of the world but I can feel it coming on, and just how many Dragon Slayers does one need to discover. Stephanie says the show must go on, but I just don’t know. I have spoken to husband several times this week, and the kids came to a performance with Grandma which was fantastic. Secretly I think they are quite proud of my new career, but I can’t leave them for much longer. We have to sort something out soon. We are all suspended in a dance/football limbo and must find a way to move forward.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Time on my Hands

Two weeks have flown by. My Svetlina, the dancing shadow? A triumph! Every audience we played to joining in with the title music to “Tales of The Unexpected” A throbbing mass of people waving their arms and singing along. “Doo Doo Doo do do do Doo Doo Doo do do do Do Do. No need to fret about my appearance, I am a dancing shadow, just wiggle and dance, wiggle and dance. I have never been in such good shape.

The kids are ok, I ring them every night. Of course they ask when I will be coming home, to which I can only reply soon. Daughter tells me that Husband has worn out his Bill Withers album, playing “ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone” into the early hours, which induced a pang and a gulp. Son is secretly quite proud of his Mom. Granddad told him that lots of people used to run away with the circus when he was a lad; Grandma had gone off several times during the past few years but never with a circus so it was a first for the family.

Guido and Stephanie are over the moon with the success of the show. Ivanka, formerly Ivan the heavily bearded Transvestite Cossack, has gone down a storm, bar one night when he wore inappropriate underwear during his mini skirted Cossack dance. Bob and Jean, between cruises, have unfortunately fallen out, Jean’s head momentarily turned by the fleet-footed Scottish sword dancer Willie Watson. The two males of the ménage a trios exchanging places, Bob proving to be a rather dangerous sword dancer and Willie providing an unusual interpretation of a Viennese waltz with several leg cross overs and bended knees when a simple point of the toe would have done. There! you see, I am even beginning to sound like a dancer with all this technical talk, anyway Guido and Stephanie were so enamoured by the way the tour was progressing that they added extra dates and extra acts. Chief among them Sweaty Pauline the Palm reader, her favoured sobriquet - Sweet Pauline, suffering from a misplaced vowel in the programme, and “Khan the Astrologer of Doom”, no encouraging forecasts with this one. The two were to fill in between the dance acts. Plucking people from the audience, Pauline builds em up and fills them hope, thirty minutes later Khan knocks then flat with a swish of his cloak and an astrological projection that leaves them wondering if they will make the end of the show. Guido and Stephanie swiftly taking the stage with a fiery Salsa to reassure everyone that all is well and that despite Khan’s forecast, the dance lives on.

I’ve never mixed with mystics before, the closest I’ve come? A roomful of faux wizards and witches at a Harry Potter theme party. With our merry troupe expanding and rooms at a premium I was required to share with Pauline; Khan striking an instant rapport with Ivanka, the pair agreeing to hunker down together until more rooms were available.

I had not shared a room with another person since my student days, Pauline was not that sweaty and neither was she that mystical. She snored and looked a little liverish in the morning and she couldn’t predict what holiday camp we would be staying in the following night. We talked a little, late at night, while battling to dispel the highs of the evening’s performance in an effort to attain sleep. I explained that I was temporarily running away from a life of football, I was missing my family but could not go back to what had gone before. Pauline, glistening with an evening of satisfied customers, turned on the light,

“Show us your hands love”

I sat up on the side of the bed and presented my hands,

“Colour’s Ok, shape wise I’d put you as Spatulate with a hint of fire, your Mercury mount is well developed and Venus mount suitably fleshy.”

And so she went on: this line does this, this line does that, islands on my life line, tridents on my heart line, whorls on my finger tips and an apex on my Luna mount, finally consulting a crumpled chart to declare my best suited role in life to be a Dragon slayer

“It’s an old chart!”

Pauline, declared as she returned to her bed.

“Sorry Pauline, its just…. Oh I don’t know, thanks for the reading it has really helped and I promise to fully appreciate my fleshy Venus mount, but I think I am going to sleep now”

I turned off the light, Pauline snored, and I toyed with the idea of Palmistry in football; coaches picking teams by examining hands rather than assessing fitness and ball skills. Obviously a Goalkeeper must have hands, preferably big ones at that. A line of intuition would be a desirable trait on the palm of the aspiring keeper to predict opposition attacking moves. Any sign of the Girdle of Venus, a marker of sensitivity and inner turmoil, then keeping is not for him, if the ball goes in the net, you have to move on. A definitive moniker for the defender is a high set apex on the Jupiter mount that suggests a stickler for correctness, while prospective midfielders should display a loop of serious intent in the whorls below the middle finger. Strikers should not display a line of fate. The tip of the middle finger should be flexible, denoting a gambler, which is just what you want around the box. Substitutes should have a fork leaving the line of fate around the Luna Mount signifying patience, and the manager should have a Mount of Jupiter to die for.

What have I done? Twenty minutes pontificating about the merits of footballer’s hands when I have pledged my short term existence to the world of dance. Is my life missing a soupcon of the dreaded football?