I was talking to a street musician, she was about 17 I think, playing the accordion outside the supermarket, and she was tired….but there was a ethereal beauty about her fair complexion and dark ringlets. She reminded me of a ballerina, an opera singer, a performer I might have seen and aspired to be when I was a child.
The game of ‘bags’ was a favourite past-time with my brother and friends, we’d score magazines and slam our hands down hard on anything we wanted. Performers were fair game, and in the programmes of the ballet performances that were compulsory spectacles for children of orchestra pit musicians there was an abundance of pretty young dancers. I ‘bagsed’ the ones I wanted to ‘be’.
After the show, in the furious colours of backstage chaos I would find a vantage point to watch the excited pack down and makeup removal routine, if I behaved myself I was welcome, even celebrated as my eyes shone with infatuation as I spied my ‘favourites’ transforming into regular folk again.
After the show is a time of smiles, of larger than life, of bouquets of flowers and celebration. Performers are full of adrenalin and the world is a rosy place, far from the droll routine of homework and dishes, the boredom of being overly imaginative in the real world.
Here the love for performance took me, as did the afterglow laughter and optimism that goes with the big show.
Now after years of experiencing this adrenalised fuss first hand and been on the receiving end of children’s enthusiasm I am wondering how if we can somehow embody this sense of purposeful joy more often in our daily lives. Where does it retire to when the curtain comes down? Who are we when we are not shining with face paint and velvet costume? Who are we when we are?
I find myself wanting to demystify the world of magic, and to bring it into the ‘real world’ for the sake of not just children but all comers, we are all children somewhere in our hearts after all, we are all still somehow capable of believing for a few moments that there really is magic, and perhaps we can believe with enough passion that we will see that indeed there is magic in our world.
It is harder to step through to the mystical dimension in the city, where even the clouds appear contained by the omnipresent cables overhead, the concrete structures, the fumes and the worried faces.
I find my way more easily performing as part of market life, where the multitudes can come and go, look and stare, or avoid eye contact, freely and without judgement. Here children can stumble onto an expression of presence that has no programme, no promotion and no price. Where for a second or a minute I can connect with the broken and lonely, and from my safe zone amidst a tune or a song, I can turn that frown upside down, meet those infant eyes with freshness, reminding myself of the sacredness of performance, the shamanistic role of the extrovert, to explore a way to try and tune us all to vibrate with the same open heart.