Spit, Shit, and Break a leg.
There’s a lot of preparation that goes into putting on a show that the audience has no idea about. The hours of rehearsal, the costume fittings, the hair and makeup. Not to mention the emotional breakdowns, the tears, the sweat, the drama of someone getting injured a day before the show and their second cast freaking out because they have to jump in for them after only two rehearsals. All details that when added up together, should make a pretty seamless show. There are not only these standard types of routines to prepare for a show, but also some other less „traditional“ ones. Its funny how I never thought any of these things were weird until I took a step back and looked at them through an outsiders eyes.
- Don’t wish me good luck. In Germany I learned that you say „Toi Toi Toi“. Its usually said really quickly and incomprehensibly, as to add some dramatic flair and ultimate confusion to anyone from the outside world. The response is then „Vielen Vielen“. Pretty straight forward if you speak German. If not then it just sounds like you have some kind of weird stutter. One of the ballet mistresses will combine a „Toi Toi Toi“ with a hug and a little spit over the dancers shoulder. It’s a special moment which has only happened to me once, but it’s one that I’ll treasure always.
- Mierda. Merde. Basically just means „Shit“ in Spanish or French. If someone says „Mucho Mierda“ or just plain „Merde“ your not allowed to say anything back. Or else.
- The chocolates. Usually if you have a big premier, its customary to bring your partner or your fellow dancers good luck chocolates or sweets. These are also called „Toi Toi Toi’s“. There is a fine line, however, between a nice gesture and an obvious sabotage. Giving out too many Toi Toi Toi chocolates and you start to look like the witch from Snow White trying to poison everyone with empty calories and fat. The best Toi Toi Toi I ever got was a beer that I drank right before going on stage for good luck*.
- Praying to… God? I honestly don’t even know how many dancers actually believe in God. As a group we generally don’t tend to be very conservative (flamboyant, whimsical, flaming are all words that come to mind before conservative). I think a lot of us are agnostic or atheist until about 5 minutes before the show. Then suddenly we all believe in God. Or something.
- Good luck kiss on a pointe shoe. Yep, I saw it happen. It was one dancers own personal tradition. She would kiss each one of her pointe shoes right before going on stage. Now that’s love. Or something.
- Another guy before every show would touch the stage and then touch his forehead. I don’t really know what else to say about this.
- Carbing up. I’ve heard many different theories on diets and foods that help provide energy before a big show or rehearsal. One dancer swears by sandwiches. For her that’s all she would eat before. Another dancer would eat an entire bowl of pasta „for energy“. Rice seems to be a pretty popular choice. So trying to follow this kind of theory, as an apprentice, I made the rookie mistake of eating a burrito before a show. What? It’s like a wrap! … No its not. Not at all. Such an epic fail. The costume department had to bring me a bigger dress for the first act of ‚Sleeping Beauty‘ because I was so bloated and full I couldn’t fit into mine! True story bro. To this day, I’ve never eaten a burrito since**.
I guess in a way I can also be a bit superstitious. Not like the „don’t walk under a ladder“ or „don’t open an umbrella inside“ kind (I even HAVE a black cat at home that crosses my path all the time and I’m totally fine. Knock on wood). But I also have little things that I have to do before a show just in case. You never know what can happen with live theater. It’s better to have these little weird traditions or rituals that help ease some nerves or stress. I mean who knows what could happen if forehead guy doesn’t touch the stage before curtain.
*That totally didn’t happen. I drank it right after the show and got pretty drunk from being so thirsty and dehydrated. Like I said, Best. Toi Toi Toi. Ever!
**Also not true. Burritos are like my third favorite food of all time.