I turn 36 in a few days. A significant portion of those years have been spent either onstage, backstage, or sitting in a darkened auditorium.
Apart from a lifetime love of books, my parents instilled in my sisters and myself an appreciation for all things cultural. On our family travels, we never visited Disney World, Epcot Centre or Universal Studios. I've still never been to any of those places. We went to art galleries, museums, and queued up outside many a theatre in all weathers to get tickets to Starlight Express, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Blood Brothers and more, even if it meant sitting separately or having to come back and queue again another day when there were only enough tickets for a couple of the members of the family. London's West End is one of my favorite places in the world.
As a young dancer, I spent hours a day backstage and onstage. Blocking, lighting, marking, and, of course, dancing. So the theatre is a very special place for me, and even when I stopped performing I remained an eager audience member. My mum, herself a frustrated ballerina, has long been a professional fundraiser, bringing plenty of private funds to very deserving symphony orchestras and ballet companies.
When Little A came along, I stayed away from the theatre for many years. No nanny meant no social life, and a husband who worked late most nights meant I couldn't turn over babysitting duties either. Then the Au Pair came, and gradually I began to make time once again for evenings out. Drinks, dinners, the occasional party and, finally, once again, theatre trips.
This first quarter of 2012, I've been in the audience more than I have the past four years, thanks to a friend's convincing me to get a local stage company's season ticket (three shows in three months). And then a bonus - a ballet company from Barcelona came to town to do a quick double bill.
For the first time in decades, I was blown away by ballet. Not since Sylvie Guillem and Darcey Bussell have I been so impressed. And this time, it wasn't because of the dancers, though they were fantastic. Catalan choreographer David Campos straddled the line between culture and popular and melded them together perfectly with his new restagings of old ballets. For the first time, I wondered how different my life would have been if I'd moved to Barcelona to dance with their company when they'd invited me, and felt honored to have been given such good parts to dance when he and his wife staged Carmina Burana in Manila fifteen years ago.
Ah, the stage. Sometimes, I miss you. But I don't regret hanging up my dancing shoes for the turns my life has taken since. For now, I'll be a willing audience member again. And again, and again.