The hours of rehearsal are over. Your body still bruised. But now, there's a stillness.
The feeling a performer gets right before they enter the stage is the feeling they will forever chase for the rest of their lives. As the performers lean forward to place their makeup just so, as they pull their hair away from the neck, and then sit back to inspect. For everything is art. The way the light hits their eye shadow, the way the sleeked back hair helps create the dancers' lines on stage, the way the shoes must be broken in. The way the blush pulls out the cheek bones, and the rosey color lines the lips. This is all preparation. Some listen to music. Some pray. Some stretch with their friends, some stretch alone in a corner.
Every dancer has their own personalized ritual. To each, their own.
The calmness is there, accompanied with the tingle of nerves. You can hear the murmurs of the audience as they settle down in their seats. You see the flashing of the lights as the stage manager runs through the cues. You hear the orchestra tuning. You feel the breeze as another performer hurries by.