As a dancer, I know that the show always goes on. No matter what rehearsals are like or how you feel, the curtain is going to go up and you are going to go on stage so you better stay focused and work hard if you want to be your best! I’ve always enjoyed using this phrase as a metaphor for life, and lo and behold, a show has LITERALLY gone on amidst my cancer diagnosis. I am the Director of Dance at Laguna Beach High School, and when I received the phone call from my doctor that I have cancer …. everything stopped. One of the things on my plate at the time was preparing for our annual Winter Dance Concert, and usually these concerts take up a lot of my life, but I knew that this time, things were going to be different.
My school community is aware that I have breast cancer, and everyone has been extremely supportive, especially the LBHS Dance Program. Upon receiving the diagnosis, I had been working feverishly to re-imagine our Winter Dance Concert as a student driven production – something I’ve done in a previous school district but not in Laguna Beach. I had delegated students as choreographers, lighting designers, and costume designers for the first time. I was also assigning them to create our paper program, manage our social media accounts, facilitate concert publicity, and stage manage. My intent was to mentor them through this process alongside professional guest teachers. I also had a new group of parent boosters who were looking to me for guidance through the madness of a concert, and what happened was a true lesson in trial by fire for everyone. My students and parents were not going to have the opportunity to be mentored, they were going to have to do their part or there would be no dance concert. My assistant director, Samantha, stepped up into my role of administrating everyone and while I’ve been undergoing chemotherapy, she’s been rallying the troops to make everything happen.
This past Thursday, my brother texted me and said, “Hey sis! You ready for the dance concert?” And I replied, “Yes! I haven’t seen it so … woo!” The thought of this situation at the start of my career would have paralyzed me – like, check me into an institution, haha. I am such a workaholic, and I tell people all the time not to worry about me because my work is my hobby. Being diagnosed with cancer has completely changed my perspective, and I’ve had no choice except to step back and trust the people around me to rise to the occasion… and rise, they did. The dance concert opened and closed with flying colors and I was able to attend as an audience member, fancy that! My family and Brett went with me. My brother captured some beautiful photos, and I want to share them with you. We always circle up before a show, and this circle was extra special. I shared with my students how much I am learning about the importance of being present. I encouraged them to silence the pre-show jitters and to just breathe and dance in the moment. There’s no other way to perform or to live! I’m taking my cancer journey one day at a time, but having all of these amazing people in my corner gives me so much joy and hope. To my students, parent boosters, administration, the community of Laguna Beach, and especially to Samantha, thank you from the bottom of my heart for more than you will ever know. #lbhsdance #werk #theshowgoeson #wedidit