Every time my sister Nisha and I performed in France, we had far less time to practise than usual. The last two performances were easier – we practised long distance on Skype before meeting and practising. Before that, it was individual, separate efforts, followed by coordination once I reached France.
I remember the time we performed at Aix-en-Provence. We practised, of course we did. But there’s some amount of choreography that changes every time we perform. Obviously, if I perform a piece with another dancer, I do not perform it in exactly the same way. I have to keep the other performer in mind, if nothing else.
For this particular performance, as a duet, there were several things that we did in a kind of mirror-formation. I did the right side, while she did the left. I never practised the left side; she never practised right.
And then, somehow, we got disoriented on stage.
We entered from the wrong sides of the stage.
As soon as we faced each other, stage smiles on our faces, we realised.
Horror, hilarity, hysteria.
What on earth could we do?
Finding myself on the left side of the stage, I had to do her part; she had to do mine! Our choreography did not allow anything else.
Laughter kept coming to the brink; we were both on high alert, concentrating on what we had to do, rather than focussing on dancing well.
There’s one section about halfway through the piece where, in a gesture of prayer, Nisha sits with folded hands, and I stand behind her. From there, because we were one behind the other, we could go back to our original places, our planned places, our practised places.
The gesture of prayer was never more devout a thanksgiving.