Feet flexed, toes pointed, head held high, I tried to steady my breath as hundreds of eyes settled on me.
I had planned on being a spectator, not a performer, when I attended the opening of the Singapore Night Festival recently.
But there, under the stars and on the front lawn of the National Museum of Singapore, I found myself swaying to the movements of others onstage.
I was trying to catch glimpses of fiery orbs licking the sultry darkness; artists from the performance group Starlight Alchemy were tossing and twirling fire-lit wands on a makeshift platform metres away.
Most times, however, my eyes met the backs of the heads of festivalgoers crowded in front. It was likely the same view for the multitude behind me.
I kept up my performance for a while but it takes skill, not determination, or the distressing prospect of brushing against the skin of a swarm of clammy strangers, to hold the pose of a lemur on its hind legs.
As I peeled away from the moist mass, apologising to those I writhed around, the pardon I muttered gradually became a mix of self-pity and reproach. I was in a sorry state. I was sorry I tried to catch the performance in front of the museum.
This was not my first time at the festival, which is into its sixth year. I had been to past editions and watched performances in front of the museum with crowds. I was willing to embrace the crush of people for art but, this time, I was crushed and left without a view of the spectacle.
It was not always this way.