Good Luck in Any idiom

The origin of “break a leg,” meaning to wish an actor good luck, has many possible derivations. Some researchers believe the term comes from vaudeville days where curtains were called “legs.” Since not all actors were able to get on stage, you wished each other well by telling each other to “break a leg,” or to get on stage. Breaking a leg is also an archaic term for bowing, so perhaps the term refers to curtain calls. And in Shakespearean days, the stage was often built on legs, and sometimes the folk crowding into the cheap seats would be so numerous, their raucous enjoyment broke the legs of the stage.

Whatever the meaning of “break a leg”, it doesn’t have any relevance here because it does not refer to dancers. In the case of dancers, you wish them “Merde,” short for “Merde à toi,” which apparently is an old French slang term for “good luck.”

Since I’m a UnitedStatesian What’s wrong with plain old “good luck”? It might not be traditional, but it’s an easily understood term if one speaks English, and I need all the luck I can get.

I have dress rehearsals the next couple of days, then four performances this weekend, and for some reason, I’ve been feeling a bit of trepidation. Not sure why exactly. I know the dances as well as anyone and better than most, though I seldom get through a dance without some small error, a costume malfunction if nothing else. (We are wrapped in veils ready for an unveiling at the end, and sometimes the veils unveil themselves prematurely. So not cool!)

My dance teacher seems to think I’ll do okay and attributes my trepidation to the unsettled nature of my life, which is entirely possible. And she reminded me of something else. However well or poorly we do, we are still dancing on stage. How cool is that, to be doing a belly dance (actually two belly dances!) before an audience even though most of us have no dance experience and none of us are young anymore. (I’m the youngest, come to think of it.)

So despite the harrowing days ahead, I will try to concentrate on the wonder of it all. Me. On stage. Dancing with my class. Swathed in veils and glitz and glitter and (hopefully) a brilliant smile.

Wish me luck in whatever idiom you choose.


(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)

17 Responses to “Good Luck in Any idiom”

  1. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    A little bit of nervous energy can be good for a performance. Something to keep in mind. Not so tuned into dancers and dancing but an actor without nervous energy, at least on the first night, is an actor you don’t want on stage. I usually try to go to either the first night or the last for a performance. In the first everyone on stage gives their all because they don’t know if it will work. Even if it is a play that has been staged plenty of times elsewhere by other actors it could still flop. So everyone is keyed up to make it work including the audience. The last show is also special in that it is the farewell. Actors and audience both want it to go well, especially if it has been a success. I remember seeing Cosi at Cronulla theatre in the 1990s. Wonderful performances! I hated the movie they made of it but the play itself came to life at that little theatre south of Sydney that can…I have been involved with that little theatre now for about two years with my plays. So I know something about acting, directing and writing for theatre. Good luck with your dancing.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Well, if nervous energy is a good thing, I should be fine! It’s so cool you’re involved with theater.

      • ROD MARSDEN Says:

        It was an accident. I wanted to see a play being staged at Cronulla so I looked up the web site. To my surprise there were suddenly ways in which I could be more than audience. I was thrilled and the thrill hasn’t worn off. Cronulla Arts Theatre…the little theatre that can…

  2. leesis Says:

    may the force be with you :)…and may you dance like never before! xx

  3. Wanda Hughes Says:

    Great picture, brilliant smile. Lovely. Good luck. May your feet be nimble and your heart soar.

  4. Holly Says:

    Good luck. 🙂

  5. Constance Says:

    Good Luck. You look great in your photo and will be the same on stage. I am excited for all of you. Wish I was dancing with you. Will miss being in this performance.

  6. Coco Ihle Says:

    Pat, you look absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! Years ago when I was preparing, nervously, to dance on stage as a beginner, my instructor told me to go to a mirror (in private) beforehand and say OUT LOUD, “I am queen _______ (insert your name here) and I am having a wonderful time entertaining my subjects, feeding myself from their adulation! If even one dares to not to applaud with the greatest show of appreciation and admiration, I shall simply have them beheaded!” Sounds silly, but that always made me laugh, and therefore, I relaxed and did enjoy my dance experience with proper abandonment! Break a leg!!!! Good luck!!! Knock ’em dead!!!!!

  7. Screamie Birds Music (@ScreamieBirds) Says:

    As a singer, the time to be nervous is if you’re not nervous. You look fabulous!

  8. Jill Says:

    Best of luck, Pat. With this and everything.

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