The Show Goes On

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

9 thoughts on “The Show Goes On”

  1. Estee… you are so full of grace. You’re light is shining extremely bright. Thinking of you often and sending healing vibes every time. Ive always loved reading poems, quotes, short stories. Thank you for sharing yours.

  2. You have cancer but cancer doesn’t have you. Stay focused and strong. I’m so amazed at all you do and what your still doing for all you do. I use to say your dad could run for president and win and now I think you could be the First Lady to win president. Your the best cause you do what you do and it’s not just work its the passion and compassion you love that makes you Estee. Prayers for you today and everyday

  3. Isn’t it awesome how many people this has touched and have stepped up cuz the show must go on? So happy it was a great success and continue on with your recovery. Praying

  4. I wish I had some words of wisdom here for you. Great pictures, proud of the kids, thank goodness for Samantha! Know I am here for you, thinking of you and praying for you. I wish you well this season. With love and admiration.
    Ted Clarke

  5. I love the image of “the show must go on”, which is what Mr. Cargile taught us in Dinuba High School music performances in the 1950s. In my case it applied to remaining on the stage and singing even when the organ cut out at a wedding. When it came to cancer, it meant “singing” even when my man cut out.

  6. Well said! Beautiful pictures! Sammy, you did amazing work! Estee, you have a great group of people surrounding you! Xo , Lou

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