The Fall Dance Assembly From a Performer’s Perspective


The MA Taiko ensemble performing at the Fall Dance Assembly

Anaya E.

We opened the show: 10 nervous freshman girls wielding wooden sticks and large drums. All semester, we’d been building up to this moment in Taiko class– the very first segment of MADCO. Every D Block, we’d stand in the Old Gym, circled around large drums to work on complex rhythms, precise movements, and deep breathing. Throughout the semester, we’d enjoyed fun games of “Taiko Uno” and making TikToks, but also been challenged by composing our own music and bringing strength to our drumming. The looming performance had been a constant source of anxiety; however, it didn’t feel real until the week of the show. 

We had class first thing on Monday morning after Thanksgiving break, and it felt like all the progress over months spent working had been lost in a single week. It was hard to remember even simple songs, patterns, and movements. After school the same day, half of our short rehearsal was spent giggling about costumes and figuring out how to move the drums. A quality performance seemed hopeless. On Wednesday, we started to recall a few of the rhythms, but costumes were still forgotten and details needed to be fixed. Our dress rehearsal was filled with unexpected lighting mishaps and spilled La Croix. The performance had crept up on us, and it was clear that the pressure was getting to everyone. 

Thursday morning, we all reluctantly slunk towards the Theater, greeted by cold floors and a no-nonsense teacher. It was the day when the whole school would watch us, and everybody was panicking. We sat in small groups around the dressing room, busy worrying about videos and classmates. The older, more experienced MADCO dancers were not nearly as stressed– outwardly, at least– and instead spent this time stretching and reviewing choreography. When we were called to line up backstage, crowded between tables and lights, my friends and I did our best to calm last-minute jitters. As I walked onstage in front of the packed freshman/sophomore audience, all I could think was, “Too late to back out now.” After that, I went into autopilot. My arms played the songs my brain forgot, and I smiled at my classmates despite my anxiety. When it was all over, we ran into the dressing room and immediately started unpacking the performance. The consensus was that it wasn’t perfect, but we did our best to cover up mistakes. From the wings, we watched MADCO’s dances and whispered about how in the future, that would be us. After our final bows were completed, we all were eager to relax. But, a short 4 minutes later, we were called back to do the whole thing over. We reassured each other that this time would be easier: we’d done it once and everyone was less nervous. We were wrong.

The second show flew by in a blur, and I was laughing the whole time. The cause? Many things, including but not limited to: a friend’s funny face, wardrobe malfunctions, catching a senior’s eye in the audience, forgetting a rhythm, and my own laughter. As we all ran offstage, we frantically whispered to each other, “Did you see that?!” “Stop, I messed up so much!” “I’m transferring schools.” Even though our second performance turned out different than we hoped, we rallied around our shared discomfort. The past semester of Taiko class has taught me about patience, music, anxiety, control, and I’ve made new friends because of it. I’d been both looking forward to and dreading the fall dance assembly for months, and even though it didn’t go exactly as planned, I’m glad I performed anyway.