“Lord,” I recently prayed, “I know you made me in your own likeness. But are you really that uncoordinated?”
About this time every year for the past six years or so, I find myself deeply involved in some sort of music theater program. And, being so, I come to the realization that another year has gone by, and my brain has yet to find any sign of intelligent life in my feet.
It’s a little like Mars: I know everything necessary to support life is there, but my Rover has not been successful in locating any sort of dexterity.
Every year I pray that maybe, just maybe, some sort of hidden hormone will appear and give my legs dancer-like abilities in time for the next musical. However, as each show rolls by, I find that there is no coordination running in my jeans. (Cue laugh track.)
So far in life I’ve been fairly lucky in musicals. In shows where I do not have a main part, I get put somewhere in the back of the cast so that when I do mess up in the big-group numbers, nobody knows. And in shows where I do play an important character, the choreography has fortunately not been terribly difficult.
All of that changed this year.
I currently am involved in a production at Tabor College called “Children of Eden.”
(Warning: Prepare for a blatant and shameless plug for this musical in the next paragraph.)
“Children of Eden” is a musical based on the first several chapters of Genesis, and “explores the possibilities and complexities of family and faith that have been with us since the beginning of time,” as director Judy Harder put it.
Two weeks ago we had what is lovingly referred to by Tabor music theater participants as “Choreography Week,” in which a hired choreographer comes and tries to get everyone to move in certain ways at certain moments with certain flair in all the songs.
And we try to accomplish all of this in just one week.
For some cast members, this is no problem. Then there’s me.
I have this pre-conception image of myself standing in a large, supernatural room full of booths offering the talents and skills we are supposed to sign up for before being born. And while standing in line for coordination, I must have seen a hotdog stand or something shiny, because apparently I got distracted and did not get my coordination.
Darn shiny hotdogs, darn them.
It is specifically for this reason (lack of coordination, not shiny hotdogs) that for my required “physical education” class at Tabor I am currently enrolled in a course called Fitness Walking.
I’m not making this course up.
Two days a week we meet for 50 minutes and—you guessed it—walk. Last week, for example, we completed “Tour de Tabor,” a grueling three-day competition in which we walked laps around the track, and whoever got the most laps won a prize.
I thought maybe if all I had to do was walk, my coordination disabilities wouldn’t affect me. Unfortunately, this theory was discredited when I tripped over a white line while walking back and forth across the football field the other day.
Much of the choreography in the large group numbers contains step-touches, touch-steps, three-step turns, sway steps, jump steps and a step movement called the grapevine. I would be happy to demonstrate each of these for you. Done separately, I can flawlessly execute each step.
Put them all together into the timed rhythm of a song, however, and I just want to execute myself.
But here’s the real kicker—no, “the kicker” is not part of our choreography, although I’m sure I couldn’t do that either: since I am playing a lead character, I get to be in the front row. (The way the musical is written, some first-act and second-act characters double-up actors, which means I go from being Adam at the beginning to being Noah at the end.)
And what’s worse—cue ominous organ music—is that at times I have to deviate from the group choreography and do something completely different in the middle of a song.
So not only am I unable to perform my choreography, but I’m also worried that I will be faced with a full-on identity crisis.
They say that to be able to understand a person, one should walk a mile in his shoes. Maybe that’s what I’ll do to even out having multiple personalities.
But on the other hand, I have enough trouble walking in my own shoes.