First Performance

Wednesday, March 9, 2011: Stony Brook University, Evening of the Arts

It was a superb showcase of all the talents medical students here at Stony Brook had to offer: music, dance, and art. I was absolutely awed by the variety of talents. I almost felt like a dud that I did not pursue music as a leisurely passion beyond high school. I mean, the last time I played the violin, I still depended on tape, I had trouble counting, I hated sight reading, and I certainly could not play a song by memory and with emotion. But the performances by my fellow classmates were EPIC; they played and sang songs with power and passion. The notes and melodies were crisp, mellifluous, and beautiful. Like I said many times before, if I had a voice like Mariah Carey’s or the charm and diverse instrumental skills of Wang Lee Hom, then yes I would jam in a band and jump in an acappella group like Lymph Notes.

That’s not happening. My larynx is flimsy and I prefer to karaoke to Youtube songs in my room with me, myself and I. So what did I choose to pursue in medical school… DANCE. Yes, dance. With no previous experience ever in ballet, hip hop, tap, modern, belly, or anything, I decided to try DANCE. One of the first activities I took on was Step dancing, and I am part of SB Med’s Stepedius (a play off the stapedius muscle of the inner ear, used to dampen sound waves entering the auditory system).

Preparation for the performance was intense, but worth the time spent away from pulmonary primers. For most of the group (13 of us total), we never did step dancing before. Gee I never even heard of it until I got here. We were set to perform at the end of Act I, and by then, it was almost 9pm. Outside the lecture hall, we congregated. “Relax, take it easy… we can do this!” We all wanted to make this a perfect performance for all the students and faculty members in the audience. We ran through bits of the routine again, making sure our movements were exaggerated and sharp. Even more important, our transitions needed to be solid and clean, because with step dancing, we can easily fall out of sync and sound like a mess. After spinning around and calming the mind, it was show time. Boy, my sympathetics were on fire. Being on stage is intimidating, especially when the lights are blinding you and a whole crowd is watching you!

We got in ready positions, split between both ends of the stage. There were some shoutouts, some waves, smiles, and then we were off. We were off like the choo-choo train. Luckily, our choreography was synchronized for the most part, powerful and just plain awesome. We all put in that extra oomph, solid and unified. At different parts of the routine, we got loud applauses, whistles, and awes. I saw several video camera recordings on, the red light like the devil’s eye staring right through us. The transitions were smooth, the tempo was perfect, and the group effort was evident. For half the routine, I was up front, and when you are that close, you really have the extra pressure to perform optimally. In my head, I was like “Get the slide straight, slide in the right direction… Body roll with attitude… Transformers with sharp angles and that look… Bunny hop with bounce and make sure to slap thighs BEFORE the chest… Remember, AA BBBB A and right into Old School with head bobs and hair swishing… hands clap under for two, then they clap OVER. Connie do not mess this up! Wave those arms wide and clap as hard as you can! Slap those thighs like you’ve never slapped!” Boy did I slap like I never, because my friends later would tell us, “Yeah, we saw how red your hands were.” The bruises on my thighs have just been exacerbated and my hand muscles are tensed like sausages; this is what I call dedication.

Even if there were minor slip-ups, we just took it like champs. Smile and wave! But then again, the audience was hypnotized by the beat of our stomps and slaps and the whole ghetto vibe we were radiating. I mean, come on, we were in solid carpenter boots (I was in glittery black boots that made more noise than any other shoes I had; I was probably reflecting some significant light at the lucky fronties), green scrub bottoms, and black shirts. How amazingly ghetto was that for costumes?!

It honestly felt good to be a performer. It takes courage, commitment, and charm to be under a supernova. After our final pose and exit, people were loving us. We ended Act I with a BANG, the audience all hyped for Act II.  We worked hard for this performance, and it paid off. If we made mistakes, they were negligible compared to the whole dance and the togetherness factor we showed off. Our dear friends and classmates high-fived us, hugged us, and showered us with compliments “Wow, that was amazing… You guys looked great… That sounded incredible… Your hands look so freaking RED … Wow, good job… I love your scrubs!” I was very happy for myself, for my team, for our team leaders, and our supportive school. Stony Brook has changed me so much since I started: I am stronger, more extroverted, more daring to try new things, and more of a leader. I was in awe of how far I have come with finding my comfort zone and expanding from there.

The video footages are floating about my class. Once I find it, I’ll be posting it for posterity’s sake =) Stay tuned for more Stepedius action. Next stop: Asian Extravaganza (plus Bollywood dancing too!) We are doctors who can step it and make noise =)

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