I got a snapchat of what I got for Nutcracker.
And I wasn’t prepared for it.
And let me tell you, I cried.
And not really a good cry either.
And now that I’ve had a day to process and think through, I don’t really want to write this blog post. But this is part of my story, and I have to tell this part to get to the next; just like I had to live through this part to get to the next.
So, hear me out.
I got the snap chat, with my name horribly misspelled–which I’m used to by now–and found out that I got Chinese.
Which isn’t bad, I guess.
But I sure had hopes that I’d at least be petit fleurs. Something with a tutu.
I have heard so many people complain about Chinese.
I’ve only seen The Nutcracker twice, so I’m still kinda rusty on which rolls are which, but I knew what Chinese was and where it was because the first time I saw The Nutcracker, my friend Addie was Chinese.
She seemed to like it.
But it’s not one that people think of. When they think of The Nutcracker, they think of Sugar Plum Fairies and Clara, and the Rat King, and the Snow. I knew all of these weren’t feasible at my skill level, but you know what I mean.
My friend is an adult ballerina as well and did Nutcracker for the first time last year, landing Lilac and Snow. I was really hoping I would be good enough to get those rolls, and at auditions, a couple of the girls told me I was a shoe in. I guess it’s my fault for letting me get my hopes up. Reality is I’ve only done ballet for 3 years next month and only been on pointe for a year, which really hasn’t been a year with all the injuries, surgery, and improper shoes. I should have known I wouldn’t be developed enough in skill to be farther ahead than my easier class. I’m 26.
I’m 26. That’s another kinda difficult thing. Doing a roll with 13 year olds.
but I’ve done recital with 13 year olds.
Yeah, but I wasn’t the only adult.
It feels like being in the advanced class at my old studio, but being the only one not dancing in the advanced dance. As hard as I tried, I just wasn’t up to their level. I guess I wanted to prove something to myself. I wanted to prove that I can dance, that I am improving, that I am something.
Chinese was the roll I wasn’t sure I wanted to do if I got cast in it. I know anything lower would have been with students who were too young with which to be paired. But I figured if my friend had done it, maybe I could, too.
Then I started daydreaming; of feeling pretty on that stage in a beautiful tutu. Of being in a long enough part to make it worth my family paying money they don’t really have to spare to see me. Of the pride in my voice in telling people “I am in The Nutcracker” and how excited they would be, and they would come see me and see why I dance and how the production is beautiful.
I wanted to prove that I am good at ballet. That I’m not wasting my time doing this. That all this effort and pushing through is paying off. I want to prove how difficult this is. That I am capable of difficult things. That I’m not a pansy or a baby or weak.
I want to prove that I am a ballerina.
I won’t lie to you, I cried.
I sat on my couch, crocheting and watching dance moms and cried.
I cried because I failed myself. Because I’m not as good as I hoped I’d be. Because I don’t get to wear a tutu or feel pretty or prove to anyone anything. I cried because I’m not a part that makes my friends want to take pictures of me. I don’t get to be in a roll that leaves kids wide-eyed in wonder and want to sign up and “be just like her.” I cried because I really wanted to be in a role that wasn’t typical to me. I want to show that I am human and that I am more than what is surface and that I have something to offer this world. I cried because I wanted to be remembered, and to me this interpreted as just another time that I was overlooked even if I could fill a roll or had a lot to offer. (Even if this was the best roll for me to fill.) I cried because of the fear that no one would want to come now. That I’m not good enough to be worthy anyone’s time. Or that they would come and be disappointed. I cried because my ankle is still freakin’ hurt and I can’t do anything to improve my situation and I don’t know how long it’ll be like this. I cried because I’m 26 and I feel like I missed out and should be better than I am. That I should be better because I’m older, not because I’ve only been in ballet a quarter of the time most in my class have.
A lot of emotion rolled into those moments. I debated even doing The Nutcracker at all. Who was I kidding?
Then a very wise friend of mine told me some appropriately wise advice;
“Sleep on it sweetie.”
I put it out of my mind and asked her if she knew what rolls other friends of ours had gotten and if she was excited for this years turn out.
I did the whole, “fake it ’til you make it” bit not really certain if I would ever make it to the level I was faking it. But I guess it seemed like the right thing to do.
I put it at arms length and took a step back to evaluate the situation.
- Which would be worse; being the roll I was cast for, or sitting in the audience while everyone else had fun?
- Surely there is something to be learned from this
- What about my babies, what would it say to them if I backed out?
So I thought about it.
I wanted to be something more mature, something beautiful. I wanted to be something that would show that I’m a ballerina. I wanted to be like my friend and have the blog-perfect Nutcracker experience that made everyone so proud. I wanted to be a roll that didn’t make people roll their eyes and not take me seriously.
But maybe this wasn’t the year for all of that.
Maybe this is the year that I have to learn to put all of that aside. Maybe this is the year that I learn something for myself; that it’s not about proving something to anyone else but me. That I don’t have to have these typical roles to inspire someone. That maybe the ones I’m to reach out to aren’t the once in the audience, but rather the ones backstage. What if I’m comparing my unique story to everyone else’s. What if the way that I am special is that I don’t fall in to the typical category of what you would expect, but rather am silent in my strength.
And what about that story I heard.
About the most requested extra in hollywood.
How they didn’t have any award, and no one really knew his name.
But the Director’s did, and they requested him. He was in high demand
He was in high demand, even though the public didn’t know him.
I decided I needed to be that guy.
So content in my roll and just happy to be there that I don’t have a second to waste on feeling sorry or guilty or sad.
I thought of Jenna, one of my Instep babies who is at my new studio now.
I found the cast list online this morning and looked for her name, uncertain if she even auditioned.
And there she was.
Jenna was in it, and how elated will she be if I’m in it, too?
Then I decided to look up my other friends roles, and found out one of my dearest dance friends–one of my dearest friend in general–got cast for three rather large roles without even auditioning. I was ecstatic for her, bursting in pride at how she was able to accomplish such a feat.
It crossed my thought for half a second that she accomplished everything I failed to and that I should probably be sad or bitter or resentful or whatever, but I wasn’t. she deserves this so hard.
I looked at reality
I have only been in ballet almost 3 years.
I have only been on pointe for “1 year.”
I have only been at this studio for a month and was cast in a part that requires pointe work.
Be real, your chaines and grande jete’s suck.
So, I decided that is what I will do.
I will work on these things I know I need improvement on and hope to do better next year.
Maybe if I work really hard, it’ll show.
It’s hard, being out on a stupid pointless injury that won’t seem to go away.
It’s hard, having to miss classes.
It’s hard, not knowing when I’m going to get sick.
It’s hard, not having the space I need to practice at home.
And there are a million excuses.
But I just can’t let that be the final answer.
So I decided I’m going to team up with the one girl from our class that was actually excited about being Chinese and start an optimism party.
That we will make the most of this roll and be grateful to have it.
“Dance, dance like it’s the last, last night of your life.” Right?
If I died on December 22nd, I’d wish I had done it.
I’m gonna ham up this roll and be the best I can be.
We’ll see how this goes.
2 thoughts on “Nutcracker Casting.”
Oh! Don't be so sad! You got an amazing opportunity to perform!
First, let’s say I’m French and we don’t have that whole nutcracker tradition in France. And that might be why I got so excited for you when I read “I got Chinese”. I didn’t understand why it’s so disappointing. I was like “OMG, she got a solo (well, a duo)!”. You will be on stage with all eyes on you for more than a minute! From my point of view, this looks so exciting and challenging. I don’t think I will ever get an opportunity like this.
Plus, the music is so beautiful and the choreography is so lively!
I read this post and, in the end, i still don’t know why people wouldn’t take you seriously. I have only seen the Nucracker performed by professional companies and, in these companies, this is a good role. It’s not a principal role like Sugar Plum Fairy but it’s definitely a soloist role. The companies are testing their soloists with this kind of role, it's an important one, more than the snowflakes (even if the waltz of the snowflakes is wonderful, it's a corps de ballet dance). And the audience like this variation. Look at how many views this video has: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiyx1m44nMM
Cheer up and do your best! 😀
Thank you for your kind words!
I'm still new to this studio that puts on The Nutcracker, and I think my main demise was the attitude of those around me. I think it rubbed off on me and made my initial reaction a negative one.
The way the studio does the casting is by level. There's a certain order of seniority in the roles, and being that I'm older I was hoping for one more up. But when it comes down to it, I think I'm in the perfect place I should be. I won't have to worry about doing anything further than what I am capable of doing, and the part is so light hearted and fun! I think sometimes my own head gets in the way and tries to be a pessimist where it doesn't need to be. Now that I've had some time to process and really see the casting for what it is, I can say I am genuinely excited for this year's Nutcracker and the role I have 🙂
I also think most of the people who don't take me seriously are people who aren't in the ballet world. They have a certain expectation of a ballet dancer and if you aren't a Prima then they think something is wrong with you. They also think they could do better, not even knowing what kind of work goes into ballet and how difficult it is or what the process is like. Once I realized that, I was able to really let myself see how exciting this season is going to be and all the good things that can come from this role. 🙂
Keep checking back, as there will sure to be updates and pictures as rehearsals begin! And thank you again! You made me feel loads better 🙂