Oriel's Journal

The performance is getting closer but we have become dancers, community dancers… the error count gets less but now we need to focus on the artistic impression & what we are still not very good at- smiling amid all the intense concentration!

I find myself mostly upstage throughout the dance... it’s funny that, contrary to the way we use the term ‘to be upstaged’, this actually means at the back of the stage ie away from the audience…I begin to wonder if it actually means to do something weird & distracting at the back?!  It gives me a good view of the overall shape of the dance but, even after all my lurking at the back throughout auditions & rehearsals - while Zoobin was pointing out there is no hiding place on the Playhouse stage- I regret it a little bit now…

The strange thing about the dress rehearsal is everyone looking the same! I know that’s obvious but I have to relearn & adapt some of my markers for my stage position…but the uniformity, team effect is great…

I was thinking today of the last time I was on a stage- at the National Theatre with Sir Ian McKellan no less! It was the end of an AIDs benefit when Sir Ian invited some audience participation and I hesitated but then ran all the way down from the very top at the back when he said ‘You’ll regret it if you don’t!’ The main thing we had to do then was fall to the floor when he said ‘Chateauneuf-du-Pape’…the rehearsal was pretty brief but the performance quite effective as I recall! That was more than 25 years ago- before many of my fellow community dancers were born…! I think this will be a more fulfilling stage appearance & at this rate I hope I have at least one more performance in me after Ooh La La its Bollywood!

Oriel's Journal

And so to rehearsals...at first I am torn between wondering if we have been mistaken for real dancers [?!]- the way the number of steps & sequences to learn come so fast and it’s so hard to remember the order especially when Zoobin is still running through possibilities, so we do it one way then another, then back again - and the understanding that Zoobin has done this many times before and it will work out in time, we just need to have confidence that it will...& if anyone expresses their doubts this is what I tell them...

And little by little, miraculously this begins to happen -each week is an improvement and I notice that it is easier to absorb new sequences as we go on...I watch dancers crossing the floor in travelling sequences and I see how much better it is the second then third time through... & we no longer lose all shape [and direction!] when we have to dance at actual speed... this is progress!

Meanwhile it is difficult to practice and I keep running through the dance in my head to try to commit it to memory...in week 5 it is good enough to film and this is a great help as I have to miss this week for an important work do…turning up week 6 I am nervous at what I might have missed & will I still be able to keep up...it’s not as bad as I feared except the new element of ‘dance positions’ has been added so that instead of wandering off in random directions we have to know where we are going & get there within the time allowed…I don’t have to move very far as it turns out but some people have to make giant steps- elegantly!

Chesney's Journal

I cant believe that the show is creeping up, I don't want it to end. I'm having such an amazing time throughout our rehearsals, it has been very stressful and hard work but I've enjoyed every second of it and it's been completely worth it. I've come home and my body has been aching, all different muscles I didn't even realise I was using. I absolutely love the routine it's so enjoyable, I hate it when the class is over, it goes too quickly.  

We all seem to be getting to grips with the routine now which is good and from what I can see in the mirror its looking really good. I sometimes wish we had more rehearsal time but that's really just so I can do more of the routine or even learn something else as well. Ha ha ha! I'm just being greedy!. I am now definitely looking forward to seeing the costumes and trying them on. Hopefully I've lost weight from these rehearsal and it will fit perfectly. 
Really excited for the show now. Bring it on! 😃

Reena's Journal

Apparently we have reached the half way point. My only indication of this is a request to submit this second blog! Rehearsals so far have whizzed past me at the speed of light. Bitesize pieces of intense dance and choreography, followed by days of walking like John Wayne... I haven't once regretted it! My body has discovered muscles it never thought it had, and responded positively by losing a stone in weight!

The atmosphere has been light hearted so far, but now, with the end in sight, we are all starting to become a little more focused.  We ALL want to prove that the 'community dancers' can pack a punch too!

Watch this space!

Chesney's Journal

Hi, my name is Chesney,

I'm 24 years old and I have been dancing on and off since I was 7.

Dancing is a big part of my life and to be a part of a show like this is amazing, I have wanted to learn Bollywood dancing for a long time so when I came across the auditions I was overly happy.

I was very nervous when I arrived at the WYP as its something I haven't done in a very long time, but as I got talking to a few of the ladies at the audition I felt a little bit better because everyone was feeling the same way and it was nice to get to know them better.

The audition itself was amazing, Zoobin and the company members made me feel so relaxed that I felt I could allow myself to feel the music and actually enjoy myself. The music itself is so upbeat that you cant help but smile. I honestly felt like I had really achieved something. Getting told that I had got in absolutly made my day even when I had to go to the second round but just getting past the first stage was an achievment for me as it's a style of dance I have never tried. It was a great experience.

Reena's Journal

'Be a Bollywood Star' the advert read. Sensible, safe (Scottish) Reena thought 'aye, right', whilst the old Reena - the Bollywood dancer - ensured she was heard by a twitch of the foot and a pang in the heart. I dismissed those four words to the back of my mind... until a senior member of the family died. A well standing, pillar of the community who in a short time of meeting him inspired me amongst others. His legacy allowed me to retrieve those four words and think of another four: 'life is too short'.

On gut instinct I signed up to audition. Urgh! I despised the word 'audition' - it conjured up that audition scene from Flashdance... four stern judges... judging... and being all, well, judgemental! Lol, the thought made me sick to my stomach. I was nervous, panicked and admittedly scared of embarrassing myself on the day. I had gained weight since I last danced - who would take me seriously? One person who did was my ever supportive husband Raj, who stopped me from chickening out the audition. I signed up for the last audition slot so that I would know relatively quickly if I didn't make it through - damage limitation I called it.
The one thing I failed to think about was what would happen if I actually enjoyed the process. That is exactly what happened.

The judging panel made us all feel relaxed and allowed us to be ourselves. Learning a routine was like my body craved to dance again, and I was able to let myself go and forget how big or unfit I was. I was just Reena, the dancer. I genuinely felt like I had been imprisoned for years and someone had accidently left the cell door open. I felt free. As well being exhausted, in contrast, I also felt re-energized after the audition, and I was rewarded with the amazing opportunity to be a part of Ooh La La it's Bollywood!

Oriel's Journal

‘I don’t always read to the end of long emails but this time I did…scrolling down through the regular update from West Yorkshire Playhouse at the end of April, the words “Be a Bollywood star! Your chance to audition for Ooh La La its Bollywood…” leapt out at me…too many times in the past I had let opportunities for community participation in local theatre go by – lacking confidence - not this time! I was encouraged by the friendly & encouraging person who answered my questions when I rang to book the audition so I set off hopefully having told no-one what I was doing to avoid future embarrassment!

 I had somehow calculated the odds to be about even so I was reasonably confident being a keen dancer, albeit never having done bollywood-style…reasonably confident till the first moment of the audition when Zoobin made us go up onto the balls of our feet for an eternity! My confidence evaporated… & it became a survival exercise or at least a free dance class…not to mention the shock of being plunged straight into a completely new dance form nonstop for 45 minutes!

 It got better…I began to recognise some moves from yoga [‘I can do this bit!’] so felt a bit encouraged…I was pleased with myself for daring to get this far…there was also an instant camaraderie among the dancers & the fun atmosphere, & doing something so different from anything I usually do…I still thought it would turn out to be a one-off Bollywood dance experience…so was thrilled to discover I would be in the show!

 Weeks of rehearsals lay ahead culminating in the show at the WYP...I did not yet understand that when Zoobin says ‘Is it clear?’ it is a euphemism for ‘Are you following & remembering all these complicated dance sequences?’…!