Final Performance.

As I’ve thought of what I wanted to write for our final show, I have trouble finding words.

What started out as a simple decision to try something new since I’m already at a new studio turned out to be one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.

I’ve faced fears–so many fears–right in the face and overcame them. I’ve tried so many new things and met new people. I was able to take pictures backstage throughout the whole thing and give them to the dancers and/or their parents. I’ve been welcomed in a warm way, which has been more of a relief than I even hoped for.

Last night’s show wasn’t my best (I’d say Saturday’s was) but to think of how far I’ve come from the beginning of this, my “not best” greatly surpasses my hope for a maybe best when this started.
Does that even make sense?
It was a late night and I’m at work and still on a Nutcracker high.

I’m really sad it’s over, but so beyond grateful to have been a part of this wonderful production; and in it’s 40th year, no less!
One of those moments when you just feel the reality of the moment you’re in happened again last night. I was on stage, during the finale (which we actually did right!) and you could see the top of the conductor’s head, forehead scrunched in concentration as he led the musicians. A perspective I’ve never seen but in movies. It was amazing.

So, since words are failing me, here are some pictures. πŸ˜€

My friend Lucy stole my camera and snagged this bad boy πŸ™‚
(That’s me stage right kneeling)

Waltz of the Flowers

Mari and me πŸ™‚

Shrub and I, photobombed

And again. hehehe

Here is sweet Lucy!

The 2014 Clara’s

My sweet friend Whitney came to see the last show. I hadn’t seen her since about 2008? 07? a long time.

My seeeester and me

A gaggle of Instep-ers!

My friend Sarah (seen far right in Instep picture) got me this ornament. Which is perfect. And words fail to express how much I absolutely loveΒ it.

Our costume director, Ms. Jane, made this to match my costume πŸ™‚

My parents bought me a Drosselmeyer πŸ˜€

One of the best times of my life.

Orchestra week, performance one

I didn’t post about the last rehearsal because I was so flustered I didn’t even want to try. But yesterday’s performance was wonderful.
We had a rehearsal yesterday afternoon, and a performance in the evening. It was orchestra week, so we really had to focus on counting and keeping with the music since it typically goes a little slower or faster or both, haha.Β 
It started with rehearsal, where while doing crunches, someone made a fart sound and we all died laughing. It was pretty great. The performance warm up was done with the curtain closed. There were so many people there that we had to let them in early and finish warm up with the curtain closed. Ms. Alex said she thinks it was a record.
And boy the crowd was a great one!
There were so many friends in the audience, it really made my heart explode. I don’t know what it is about it, but it makes you feel good to know you have friends that love and support you. I guess for so long I did things and no one really cared. They thought I was wasting my time or it was a phase or whatever. But now I’m doing something I love simply because I love it, and I’ve been given these amazing opportunities to do more with it; it’s great to have people support you in it. (Even if you’re only on stage for a minute and a half.)
I’m getting to know more of the people here, too, which makes me feel really good. They are very kind to me, a mere outsider, and help me and encourage me. I can’t express what that means. To have these advanced girls telling me I’m dancing well, and not just saying it to say fluffy things–they don’t know me, they don’t owe me anything, but they say it and genuinely mean it. It’s a beautiful thing.
In the hallway during intermission, one of the little blue soldiers noticed I was new. So she asked if I was new, and a flock of blue soldiers ended up around me, giggling and talking over each other about this that and the other. The dance mom for them said I could tell them to leave if I wanted, but I love kids. It makes me happy. The same one asked how old I was, and I made her guess. She stared in my eyes for a little bit, commented that I wore contacts, then said, “fifteen!”
Hah! The group then guessed all sorts of ages until they finally got to twenty-six and they didn’t believe it. One said, “how are you twenty-six?” To which I replied, “well, I was born in 1988 and the years just keep coming.”
It was such a hoot.
Some of the older girls thought I was a senior.Β  I’m just starting to go with it.
I got to take pictures of the snow, which came out good and made me happy. The girls did a great job. I was so proud.
Second act went about the best yet. The orchestra goes a little slower at our part, which was nice for me because I was actually able to do the pirouette well! It made me happy. We even did the finally the best we’ve ever done it, and on time! I did kinda roll my foot in those stupid chaines turns, but I didn’t hurt it so that’s good and no one really noticed except for one of my flower friends. Hehehe.
I’m trying to upload pictures, but I’m on my phone and its kind of funny. So I’m gonna act like they’re there so I don’t forget what I want to say and if they don’t show I’ll add them later. So. Keep checking back at my blog πŸ˜€
Abby was our Clara last night. In getting to know dancers and their moms I found out she has an autoimmune disease. I do too, although a different one, and to see her take on the complicated and strenuous task of the roll of Clara and do SO incredibly well, it really encouraged me. She wasn’t just “good for being sick” she was good and you wouldn’t have a clue she was sick if you weren’t told. What an amazing thing! She’s such a sweetheart, too. A great heart makes me happy.
(Okay. Here come the groups which I don’t know what order their in so whatever. Bare with me)
Sarah and Liz went to instep with me. Liz dances at Munro with me in the 4s class and also takes the adult ballet class and sarah comes occasionally,Β  but also takes at a different studio occasionally. They have become some of my greatest friends. I’m so grateful for these two.
Sara and Rachel became my friends through other friends which I think is pretty cool. They have hearts the size of Texas and are constant encouragers, even if we don’t get to see each other often. The one in the center is now my new friend as well!
This group is one that is full of people from all different parts of my life that have come together in one place over time which I think is really cool. Sarah (I know, I know a lot of sarah’s) went to private school with me when we were kids. Rebecca and I were in the same dorm at Bible school. Wendy and I met when we shared a tent camping in the dead of winter, and Jessica and I met at the place that is the common denominator for us all, the Net. I met Lesley last night, and she is now my new friend as well! So great having them there.
Lisa and I met through a Bible study. Her daughter gave me the nickname “Lelee” when she was 3, which melted my heart. Especially since I’ve heard about every nickname possible for my name, and she found a new one. I hadn’t seen her in some time, yet as soon as she saw me she ran straight into my arms yelling, “Lelee!!!!” It meant so much to me. Chloe takes ballet as well, which makes me so happy to know. Such sweet friends I’m grateful to have.
James and I went to high school together and did theater together. Our last show he played my dad in the music man. I was so glad to have him there for my first show in pointe shoes. He told me he was really proud of me for following my dreams and it really means a lot.
Last, but definitely not least is my sweet Lillian. She has been there for me since I was still at instep, and has been a constant support every step of the way. She encouraged me to audition, to stick it out when I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, to work hard and not let the older girls intimidate me. She’s cheered me on even as she found herself injured and side lined. She celebrated my successful pirouette and the finale finally being together. She’s the one I complain to when things get complicated, and encourages me to keep my head up. Her boyfriend even told me that he was watching my feet the whole time and was impressed by how well I did (!!!!!!!) I cherish them so deeply and am so happy to have them in my life. She also brought along some dear friends I used to work with (how we all met) Bri and Mel pictured here.Β 
I love them so much.
Tonight is our last show, which makes me really sad but gets me excited for the next show. Spring show auditions are in a couple weeks. It’s a new show so we aren’t really sure what all we’ll have. We’ll see how it goes!!
Thank you, all, for encouraging me in this. I’ve grown so much through the nutcracker and am so grateful for all my experiences I’ve had. Thank you for encouraging me and ready my stories. It means more than you’ll ever know.

Week two, here we go.

So the days since our last performance have been filled with emotions all over the spectrum.

  • My neighbor died
  • My old roommate had her baby
  • My friend’s mom died

Not to mention all the family and work drama. Oddly, this doesn’t feel like all that much, but in four days, it kinda hits.

Needless to say, I was really excited to have rehearsal tonight. Dance makes me feel like I’m alive and have something to live for. Not that I don’t without it, but it just encompasses all those emotions in a way other things don’t. And dancing on the theater stage just amplifies it. It feels right, and it feels like I never want to leave, even if every seat is empty.

There was a moment when they were running the battle scene. A good sized group of us were sitting on the floor in the aisles of the audience, talking about this that or the other. I looked at the stage and took a moment to take it in. Someone walked past and smiled at me, and that’s when I realized what was at the root of everything I was feeling–acceptance.
Here I was, this new person, no one owes me a thing or knows me from Adam, but they liked me. They accepted me. They listen when I speak and let me listen to them speak. They’re kind towards me and inclusive.

I guess this is kind of new to me. This never really happened in High School, but it never really didn’t happen. I guess I’m in a place where I am more confident in myself and don’t rely on outside sources for verification, so having acceptance feels refreshing. I don’t need Β it, but that makes it all the better.

I danced the best I’ve done this season, I think. It felt good.
That feeling of just completely letting go, dancing because it’s in your soul and not caring what anyone around you is thinking. Just doing it for yourself. It was a good day.

Sadly, it wasn’t for everyone. Several of the younger kids were out sick, and one of the flowers came down wrong on her foot and rolled it. This season seems to be plagued.

Still, we march on.

How did I forget?

My friend’s and their two little girls came to see me dance. These little ones light up my life. Seriously. They are the sweetest souls, and have a way of making you feel loved like no one else can.

Are they not the cutest things ever?
While I was talking to them, a couple of little girls came up to me and asked me for my autograph.
I seriously felt like a Disney character or something. I asked if they liked the show, what their favorite parts were; ya know, the good stuff.
My friend Alisha sent me these πŸ˜€
Then, a girl from Lola’s school came up with some family; mostly girls, but one boy. They lingered for a bit, then the mom said, “Can he get a picture with you? Y’all were his favorite and he’s too shy to ask.” To which I responded, “OF COURSE!”
Apparently, people think he’s Chinese all the time, so he decided when he gets older, this is what he wants to do. Heck yes, kid!
Needless to say, my day was made.Β 
Kids are my favorite.

Performance #2

I was a little nervous going into Sunday’s performance that Saturday’s was a one-and-done type of thing. That it happened and couldn’t be replicated. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

Warm up started us off, and for some reason my body decided it was the prime time to revolt. My stomach turned throughout the entire half hour, requiring me to awkwardly sit out many of the warm ups, especially if they involved excessive use of the abs. Thankfully, no one really asked questions, but people did stare a bit.
I made it through and did what I could. I did the turn combination with some of the more advanced girls (granted, they did multiple turns, and I kept it safe with a solid one. It’s warm up, whatever.)

I think our first performance was stronger, but number two was also a solid one. Once again, I managed the turn, and felt really good going in to the second half of the segment.

Until the music stopped.

What do we do? Do we keep going? Do we wait for it to come back? Theater in me says keep going, but what if we do and it comes back on? Then we’re off, and it’s not just me.

We all kind of waited in a moment of hesitation to decide, when it came back on. We managed to keep on time and go with the flow, and by the end of it no one seemed to remember. But still, talk about moment of panic!

The finale was a mess. I still suck at chaines turns, and almost ran into the Arabian Principal dancer. Not one of my finer moments. Whatever.

And seeing pictures of me during performance, I’m kind of cringing (not yours, Lillian. Yours are good :D) because I fear my technique isn’t as good as I tell myself it is in my head.
So. I want to try harder this next week. My old dance teacher will be out there and I want to have straight knees and lift up out of my shoe and not compromise because of nerves. I want to be better.

Yesterday was the first day I hadn’t danced in a week, and it was very sad. I love getting to do ballet every day during Nutcracker season, and have already seen improvement. I want that trend to continue, not lose it all because we don’t have class for a couple weeks.

Now I’m back to the reality that I work a full time job that is completely opposite of ballet. And it’s sad. But oh well, I guess. I’m just happy that I still get to dance when I do. How awesome is it, right?

Here’s some pictures, finally:

Annika and I back stage after the first performance

Ashley, the Clara on the first night.

Pre-show on Sunday. (Like. seriously. How awesome is this?)

Cheyenne, the Clara on the second night

Mr. Nutcracker, himself.

My friend’s daughters that came to see the show, dancing like what they saw on stage. (I mean, melt.)

Performance #1

I went to my church Christmas program this morning, and there was a girl probably 8 or 9 who was crying during part of it. She was an angel, so she wasn’t supposed to be crying, but her parents had said they would come see her, and they didn’t show. She had a slight moment of weakness and let the tears flow, then pulled it together and carried on the best she could.
It’s so important to support your kids in what they do, no matter how short or trivial it may seem.
My parents came to the show last night and let me tell you, it meant the absolute world to me.
It was my first actual performance on pointe, so I was nervous, especially considering how the practice went the day before. Usually I practice the turn right before, but I was helping my friend in Spanish with a quick change into roses in the time before my part. By the time we finished, I had about a minute before we went on when I quickly tried a turn. One of my fellow Chinese whispered, “you got this, be confident!” And I took her word for it.Β 
And wouldn’t you know it, I did the turn! My face lit up and I was freaking out with excitement. When I got off stage I said, “I did it!” And ms munro was there and she pat me on the back and said, “you did it! Well done!”
And as a plus, the principals who were struggling in rehearsal also nailed their parts. I loved seeing their faces light up as they nailed the difficult parts seemlessly. (Plus I got some killer pictures from the wings. Ms Alex was behind me at one point and smiled at me. She makes me happy.)
Our Clara was phenomenal as well and the whole show just went really well. I was so proud.
And then, to top it off, I walked out and the moment I looked up at the sky, a shooting star went by, almost like it was waiting for me to look at it.
The most perfect nutcracker ever.

Also

while we were warming up, some of the kids started getting there. The curtain was open, and they sat and watched us with eyes of wonder. I kept thinking how cool it was to be a part of something that is inspiring children, something that’s a tradition for so many families.
When the show was over, we got to do a meet and greet. We waved as the kids walked by and gave high fives and the sort. I loved seeing their faces light up when your eyes met theirs. So sweet.

After the second show, one of the girls in my group, Emerson, said a little kid told her our part was their favorite. Day = made.

Theater week, school performances

Yesterday we had our two school performances. This is when everything gets real, push comes to shove, and it’s now or never.

We did our warm up, caked on stage make up, strapped on pointe shoes and waiting in the wings for our turn.

And, wouldn’t you know it, my toe decided to get an ingrown toenail. First time ever. I had tried the pirouette in the wings, but my feet were shaking in a weird way I’ve never had happen before. My brain spaced, and during the performance, I didn’t turn.
At all.
Not even on demi.
I did a Releve passe while everyone else turned.
And that wasn’t the only time I screwed up. It was a complete and utter mess. Even one of the other girls said “I thought I was doing bad until I saw you didn’t turn.” Yep. That bad.

The second show had some redemption. I did the turn, but just on demi. My body was wearing down fast and I didn’t want to risk freezing again.

I thought the finale went better, but after rehearsal last night, we still got told we sucked. (Not in those words of course.) Ms Munro went over it with us, so hopefully it all sticks with us tonight.

During the rehearsal, one of the principal dancers seemed to be having a rough go at it. She and her partner missed a few lifts, and there were turn sequences she struggled through but managed to cover well. This isn’t typical for her, either, so I was a little concerned. What was going on?
When the male of the due did his part, some of the other dancers were standing in the wings, joking with each other. I tried to get them to keep their voices down, but it doesn’t work all too often. This is one of my biggest pet peeves; maybe it’s my theater background, maybe it’s that at my old studio no one was allowed to talk in the wings ever. I don’t know. But when it gets to loud I get antsy. Well, the principal dancer turned to them and said, “you can hear your voices on the stage, and it’s actually really distracting.”
And she’s not one to really say anything unless it’s something. She’s not one of those complain about everything types. She only speaks when it’s really something.
And what did the other girls do?
Kept on talking.
I tried asking them to whisper–easy, right?Β  Apparently not. When I tried reiterating what was said about being able to hear them on stage, they flat out said they didn’t care.
I was infuriated.

Have some simple respect. We don’t need you here, this is a privilege to get to do this. Have some common courtesy and keep the noise level down.

I almost apologized to the dancer, but I felt it would be empty since my apology won’t get them to keep it down. As I was leaving the theater, I saw ms munro. I told her what happened and what was said. She was a little upset she didn’t know sooner to say something at critiques, but I didn’t have a chance to tell her sooner. Hopefully she says something. We have been told in rehearsals before that if a principle tells you something, it goes. Hopefully today goes better than yesterday and no one is childishly bitter at me.

Theater Week, Day 2

Let’s preface this post with the knowledge that almost as soon as I got to the theater, something found it’s way into my right eye, causing it to tear up, my nose to congest, and my eye to turn red and remain irritated throughout the night.

This rehearsal was shortened a little due to the school performances that we are doing tomorrow. The show is a little shorter (hence the rehearsal shorter) but it also had a few parts we hadn’t seen yet.

We got to do the entire show in costumes, which really made it feel like the real deal.

I didn’t attempt the pirouette, due to the fact I couldn’t really focus everything I needed since my eye was acting up. The bright stage lights made me feel nauseous and dizzy with all this and it was all I could muster to just keep going.

We haven’t gotten any remarks on our dance the last couple of rehearsals, but we did for the finale. She said it’s still rough, we aren’t together on the last part. We had gotten together to go over the timing backstage before going on, but that end part was real rough; I could tell as it was happening. So we waited out critiques until it was no longer relevant to us, then we all worked on the timing together on the stage until everyone dithered off and the pas de duex needed to rehearse. It took us a couple times, but it made all the difference in the world. I’m really starting to feel better about it. The last time we ran through it, Ms Alex came up to us and said, “Were y’all just working that on your own?” We said, “Yes, ma’am.” and she said, “Good! That is so good!” I asked if we were looking better, if she had gotten to see it, and she said that we were. That it’s showing immense improvement already and if we wanted to run it before show tomorrow to feel free. She seemed really impressed that we took it upon ourselves to figure it out. It made me feel really good, especially after yesterday’s incident. We just really wanted to get it down and look good and together the best we could. I’m glad the practice made a difference!

So, now it’s late. I’m going to bed, hopefully tomorrow I can see out of both eyes. Even more, I hope I can wear both contacts!