His color is darker than mine and her color is a shade brighter than mine, yet in the first meeting at a restaurant where we sit in a round table, we don’t ask each other where we come from. He introduces himself, asks my name. After answering, he inquires if I watch the latest basketball match. I smile and drawl, ‘of course’. We surely exchange conversations, I can’t remember it though. The lady inquires how’s my mindfulness meditation going. I reply, “It’s awesome”. As she shares her meditation experience, I slowly begin to focus my attention elsewhere. A burly man sitting at the opposite table stands up and turns the TV on. Successful environmental projects and social enterprises flood the news. They seem to be conventional to all. I can’t help but notice each table and each interaction. Everyone seems calm, focused, gazing each other’s eyes. Two young white women at the table on my right are joined by a laughing black guy with a confident mien. Three of them seem to be conversing about the social projects they are doing. Hearing her loud squeal, I turn my gaze towards a girl with a black lanky hair on my left, she seems too excited about starting something for her neighborhood; I reckon a sports match? I tilt my head to the left as I fix my gaze on the service crew who are all smiling. While I am the only one guilty of inattention, there’s a sense of calm, focus, and deep joy emanating from each person.Where am I?
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Group to solo, Tahitian atmosphere to Korean vibe, Modern Contemporary to Hip hop, dance to musical performances: the Spring Dance Show 2016 held on May 13, 2016 at Skyline College Theater seemed to have showcased all. It was produced by Dance 400 classes under Amber Steele as part of their grade for the semester. The production started with a Spring Musical titled “Fancy Dress” by the Spring Musical Orchestra, followed by varying group and solo routines. “Brother” and “Strange Fruit” were the only one-man shows and most were composed of at least four members. A total of 17 performances, which ran for an hour and a half, entertained the 15 spectators. The theater, stage and artistic directors spat orders from the audio booth; the host, acting as though part of a play, filled the awkward silences between quick changes; while outside the theater, four volunteers yawning, chatting and checking their phones, sat in front of a long table where programs lay free for grabs.
Entering, I surveyed the theater expecting more than the number that showed up. I counted 15. That’s when I called myself back and reminded myself, I wasn’t there to critique but experience. After finding my seat, I heard noises coming from the backstage. There were loud whispers, whimpers, seat grabbings, and things clicking. What do you expect? I started rolling my eyes again. When the show began, at least it wasn’t disappointing. I applauded the host who had Marry Poppins’ intonation and the gait of one of Princess Aurora’s fairy godmothers. She looked spontaneous even though I knew she had it all scripted. If only one word could describe the show that would be variety. Varied performances, varied dancing skills, varied interpretations of dance moves (how straight the arms should be, how bent the knees had to be, etc), and varied reactions from me: awed, thrilled, pained, touched, acutely distressed, disgusted. When I caught myself critiquing, “Should they have at least prepare for this? When you are on stage, you should take it as a final performance not a rehearsal…”, I forced myself to stop and reflect on this experience. There are shoulds, but aren’t the flow, mistakes and the unexpected the ones that make up a memorable entertaining show? Experience has always taught me that control crashes the currents of creativity. But more than a controlling mind, negative eyes null the nirvana of experiences. At that moment, I knew I perceived from my negative eyes. Plus, I realized they were neophytes who desired to experience dancing in front of an audience and not experts who have been rocking the stage since they were ten. Again, the show provided variety and for a person who abhors the familiar, that is all that matters.