I waited to hear what the bad news would be.
"A music teacher who I've never met before came into our office and started talking to me, but I couldn't understand her, and she didn't speak any English, but another teacher translated...and now I think I have to dance on stage..."
That's how it came about, that for the month of December I was a "stage wife," as Angel had near-daily dance practices as the performance approached. As time went on, we got a better and better picture of what exactly the performance that he'd been recruited for was all about.
Our school has a yearly performance competition, with a prize of 3,000 RMB for the winning team. Teams of teachers and students, representing different grade levels and student clubs, train for weeks in advance to prepare an elaborate show, which is performed on an outside stage in front of thousands of people. I believe that the performance is outdoors because our school does not have an auditorium anywhere near large enough to fit the entire student body (3,000) plus staff, teachers, and parents.
Angel's never really been the type who desires being in the spotlight on stage, but he rose to the challenge of learning a choreographed dance, together with a group of other men who were all Senior 2 (Junior year) teachers like Angel is. The music teacher/choreographer doesn't speak English, so I often acted as an intermediary, translating her texts to Angel about last-minute practices and other announcements. Angel, for his part, tried to be helpful by suggesting to the music teacher that I also perform in the show, and she said that all the other dances were already cast, but offered me a solo if I wanted it. I gracefully refused...husbands who try to volunteer you for solo performances are so thoughtful, aren't they?
Their costume, which is intended to suggest the look of a traditional Shang Hai gangster, consisted of a black suit, a white scarf, a black hat, round sunglasses, and an umbrella.
Angel was singled out to lip-sync the (English) rap part of the song, because they thought it was more believable for the foreigner to be rapping in English.
(Hopefully you can recognize which one he is, I try to keep him in the center of my camera when possible.)
If you ask me, I got the better deal, because I got to sit in the audience and watch all 19 of the performances, which inspired a range of emotional reactions. My favorite was the one which depicted a student to fell asleep in class, and met a number of historical and mythical figures of ancient Chinese lore (played by students in elaborate costumes), until the student was unceremoniously woken up and scolded by a non-too-pleased teacher. As a teacher who has woken up a sleeping student or two...I was highly amused. I would have voted for them to win it all, but the winner was chosen by a judging panel instead of popular vote.
It was quite a chilly night--about 55 degrees, and as a non-performer who sat in the audience throughout the 2 hour program, I was slightly frozen by the end of the evening.
If he wasn't a celebrity just by being foreign, Angel certainly is now--we were told that he is the first foreign teacher to ever perform in this yearly show at our school, and his performance is considered to be a big indication that we really are part of our school's community, not mere outsiders. He feels honored that he was given this opportunity, even if he was somewhat dismayed originally at the thought of performing!
So yeah, in 2014, something happened that I never, ever, ever thought would happen: I saw my husband perform in a dance on stage. I previously thought the closest I'd ever get would be giggling at the recording of this near-decade ago performance that occurred when I was but a child.