The Moments that Count

Dancers are obsessed with counting time. We count every minute, every second, and every boom-ka, tick-ticks, and da-di-di-das in each bar of music. And when we’re done counting all that, we add life to the silences that sit between each count. These are the moments we live for on stage, when all 20–30 of us hit the same move on the same count. Perfection.

Main Stacks performing at Prelude Norcal 2008

This moment from our first competition as Main Stacks lives on forever in my mind. I remember the intense bond and affection I felt for my team — this bond that can sometimes feel thicker than blood because we chose each other and we chose this moment to be together.

But perhaps what’s more transformative and powerful for us as a team, was the moment that existed after this picture was taken. After the crowd cheered and after the MC broke through the performance wall. It’s a moment that I don’t particularly remember, but one I know purely through someone else’s memory, from Tony Calub, the founder of Prelude & judge at this particular competition.

He remembered 19 individuals packing up our props without words being exchanged. We planned and perfected each move for our performance, but the only planning we did for cleaning up the stage was, “get off stage fast.” Through all the late night practices perfecting our limbs to align with each other, we built awareness of our “individual self,” our “team self,” and the oneness of both identities. As great as our performance may have been, it was this moment clearing the stage that moved Tony.

What turned out to be an insignificant moment to us at the time became a lasting moment in our history. For without it, Tony may have never approached us to host Prelude Norcal the next year and the 6 years that followed.

To all the dancers sharing the stage next week at Prelude Norcal, count all the boom-kas, the tick-ticks, and the da-di-di-das, and when you’re done with your performance, take a moment to appreciate the oneness that’s transpired.

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