The first time I worked as a theatre teacher and choreographer, was for an outreach program at a theatre I love with my all my heart.
We offered performing arts to children who might otherwise never have the opportunity to get on stage. There was a boy, a boy named Billy, who was ackward and had behavioral issues. He decided to quit.
I saw him the day after he quit on the campus and told him I missed him and that I hoped he was doing good. He said, “You miss me?” I said, “Of course. You are a talented kid, and I liked having you around.”
The next day, he came and asked if he could join the program again. I smiled and told him I was so happy to have him back.
I knew he needed encouragement, (we all do.) I told him he was such a good dancer and singer, I told him not to hold back, to shine his light. “Dance your heart out”
Now technically speaking, he was not a good dancer or singer, but when you see someone giving it their all, it is beautiful to witness.
During a break one day, he came and sat near me and asked me if I had any pets, I told him I had a dog and 2 chickens that had just randomly showed up in my backyard. He thought that was funny. I asked him if he had any pets, he said “I have a cat, but she is lost” then he told me how a few weeks earlier, he had come home from school and found his father dead in the bedroom. Gun shot. He told me that the police came, told him to gather a few of his things, and they would bring the cat to him later. Of course they never brought him the cat, he was sent to live with his mother (who he had not seen in years) and they were living in a shelter. It was hard to not cry as he told me the story. After our rehearsal, I asked one of the supervisors of the program about the boy named Billy. She told me that his story was true and he had alot of emotional issues. Anyways, weeks passed, the kids learned their musical numbers. Some of the children were interviewed for a video. The boy named Billy was one of them. The day of the big performance came, the kids were buzzing with excitement down in the dressing room. The theatre was packed.
The performance opened with introductions, and the video showing clips of our rehearsals, the progress the children made, and interviews with the teachers and some of the students. I had not seen the video. The very last clip of the video, was an interview with the boy named Billy, he spoke of how good the program made him feel, that the teachers told him he was a good dancer and singer and that he felt so happy. I cried and cried, (everyone in the audience who knew his story was crying too.)
The kids performed their musical numbers and Billy danced his heart out. I continued to cry, as I cheered the kids on.
I dont know where the boy named Billy is today, (and his name actually isnt Billy), but I hope wherever he is, he knows he is a star. A bright light in my life as much as I was in his.