I really wanted to do a night-by-night post of Nutcracker this year, but that really didn’t happen.
It’s probably a good things, as it may have been redundant and/or boring, so I am instead doing an overall synopsis filled with top memories and stories.
(This could be a long one, brace yourselves.)
We made it through the rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday, and I was able to go to the school shows on Friday. (!!!) I was only in finale since the school show is shorter and doesn’t have Snow or Waltz of the Flowers, but I really wanted to be there anyway. It’s so much fun, and seeing the kids afterwards is one of my favorite things. It reminds you of why you do it. You remember what it was like to be the kid watching the older dancers on stage and wanting nothing more than to be like them. Reality can cause those dreams to lose their luster if you let them, but if you remind yourself of where you came from and what you were fighting for, the sparks of magic make their way back to you.
I took pictures with kids and let them feel my shoes and asked them what they thought. I saw my cousin, Lauren, who was there with her school and a few of the girls from the studio, which made me happy. Seeing the magic and wonder in their eyes touched something deeper inside of me. It’s hard to explain. Kids have a magic all their own–the trick is to find the ways to hold on to bits of it as you age.
We had a couple hours off before we came back for rehearsals for the weekend’s shows. I went over to a friend’s house to hang out since I live so far away. The closer we got to rehearsal time, the sicker I began to feel and by the time we got to the theater, it was so bad I actually said something to our assistant director. I didn’t want to sit out and I didn’t want to put flat shoes on–I wanted to run snow in shoes and costume on stage so I would have more of a sound mind going into it Sunday. I couldn’t make it through barre. I was too nauseated to do as much as cambre forward, which was pathetic and frustrating.
It reminded me of that rehearsal where I almost passed out during snow and found myself completely spacing out. I was hoping it would be the same as then where endurance found the feeling to lift. Thankfully, by the time Snow came around, I was feeling well enough to dance. I warmed up my ankles best I could and went over the part backstage by myself. This really helped me to have clarity of mind on what comes next so I could be confident in what I was doing. A few of the girls joined in and we were able to help each other remember details of parts we were unsure of.
We did the run through without the fake “snow” and all went well. I was able to do the parts I struggled with pretty decently, which made me feel way better going into the weekend. Our director even noticed and complimented me on it later that evening. That made me absolutely glow. Like all my hard work was worth it and everything would work out just fine. We ran the other cast of Snow, then carried on to second act where I was Lilac. Everything went well and I was sufficiently exhausted.
Nutcracker is the season of sleepovers for us, and in being such I managed to get 5 hours of sleep at best the last three nights straight. Needless to say, I was worn out.
Saturday, I had my babies to teach since this past week was the last week before we close for break. The girl who teaches the class before mine asked if I could cover it, meaning I had to be up an hour earlier, but I did so. Good thing, too, cause no one showed up for her class, and she also lives out of town, so she would have had to drive all that way for nothing. The teacher in the other studio said we could have combined classes, but it’s all good. I got to talk to some of the Mom’s of a few of the dancers I love. One asked me what classes I teach. Her daughter was in a class I subbed last week and apparently she absolutely loved me. It made me feel really good. I was so happy to have my babies in my classes, and even got my very first teacher gift! And it was from the dancer that truly makes me love teaching. I don’t think they’ll know how much that meant to me. I wish I could adequately express it.
After my classes, I taught a private to one of the dancers in our adult class. Mark my word, this girl is going places. She’s a force to be reckoned with and has improved so much in so little time.
We had warm up for our first full show at 6:15. I was able to do the whole thing, which made ma happy. We had really fun combinations across the floor that made me feel good, and for some reason I always seem to be my best during these times. Maybe it’s the pressure, maybe it’s the giddy feeling of doing shows–who knows. I ain’t complaining, haha!
The show went really well. Although I heard of a few people slipping, I didn’t actually see any of it happen. I was only Lilac that night, so I had it easy. Everything felt really good, and I hope it looked good. I was able to have my friend Hannah help me with a few details and timing and we worked really hard to pull it all together. Honestly, without her I’d be a hot mess! So much of who I am is due to help from other people, even as a dancer. I wouldn’t know snow without Hannah, Katerina, and Adrienne. I wouldn’t be able to do the snow circle without Emily. I’m nothing without my teachers who help me every week. I have the moral support of countless friends, some that aren’t even local. They make me a better person.
A couple of my friends from my old studio came to see the show. They’re literally my biggest fans. They make time to come see me every show and I don’t think I could ever thank them enough.
I also got asked for my autograph! That was fun. These adorable girls were so excited and I took tons of pictures with people. Even being “just a lilac,” I was there living my dreams, and showing people that their dreams are possible. (Lilac has been my goal role. Mission Accomplished.) A little girl I used to teach who’s from my church was there as well and she was so excited afterwards. It completely made my day. She’s three and she remembered me and wouldn’t stop talking about how she saw me on the stage and all about the Nutcracker. I had to mop my melted heart off the floor.
Sunday was my first show as Snow. Warm up started off promising, but as it carried on I began to feel a decline in my health. I tried to keep my mind clear of worries as I wanted to just fall apart from the overwhelming pressure of everything I was feeling. I couldn’t afford to fall apart. I was Snow. This is what I had worked for. It was now or never.
I did what I did during rehearsal, and went over it all before hand. I cleared my mind, and kept my incredible fluffy socks from my secret santa on until the Pas before us so my achilles wouldn’t hurt as badly. (Bless whoever my secret santa is.)
Snow began with the lead doing their little bits. There’s six of them, and as soon as the third did her part across the stage, a HUGE pile of snow just fell in the front corner of the stage, much like a video that’s making it’s rounds where it fell on top of the dancer as soon as she walked out. Thankfully, our dancer had just crossed, but you could still see the terror on the faces of the snowflakes as we knew the whole scene would be danced in the stuff. The Clara that night had a great time of it, and it made for some incredible pictures. We went on and did our best to keep morale high. A group of the new snow’s were praying multiple times before we went on that we’d all stay upright. I love them.
I kept my mind focused, and realized the snow was just forward of where I do the snow circle step, so I felt a huge relief in that I wasn’t doing pique turns right in the stuff. I did the circle, got down correctly, was so happy, then realized I couldn’t get up. My body wouldn’t let me. It was as though my muscles refused to have anything to do with it. I got up anyway, a tiny bit later than everyone else, but not horrifyingly noticeable, although it was noticeable. When I exited, our director asked if I was okay. This made me feel really good as I could tell she knew it wasn’t intentional or really anything I could control. I told her I was and ran to my next entrance wing. I popped my ankle and continued on. The next time we were on the floor, I struggled to get up as well, but I was in the back and at least knew it was coming so it wasn’t as bad. Overall, it wasn’t what I was hoping for, but it definitely couldn’t be worse. I am content. (Though I don’t know that I’ll watch the DVD for a while.)
After the show, my director saw me in the hallway and asked if I was okay. I told her how I was getting referred to a rheumatologist and how we’re pretty sure it’s something auto immune. That there’s good days and bad days, and I just have to do the best I can as we try to sort it all out. Her concern really meant a lot to me. So often I’m confronted with people who just don’t get it, being as they don’t know what it’s like to feel sick all the time. But she didn’t see my flub as negligence, but looked at it in concern for me, the dancer. I love her so much.
I’m sad to know that Nutcracker is almost over. I love shows so much, and try my best to just soak up every moment and detail. The way the hairspray smells in the dressing room, the sound of an army of pointe shoes coming down the stairs before our scene, the look on the faces of the kids I teach as we see each other backstage, (and the Dad of one saying, “There’s your teacher!” and seeing her face light up) the sound of the tech guy’s cues, the way the stage lights look reflected on the faces of the audience, and how no matter how you feel towards someone, if they need help with a costume, a dancer automatically stop what they’re doing to help.
My polaroid camera broke on Friday night, so I had to get a new one Saturday in order to try and get polaroids from throughout the shows. Polaroids are my favorite. There’s something about holding the picture in your hand, and not simply trusting a file stored somewhere to hold your memories for you. And also the pressure of only having one shot. It comes out how it does, which is more true to the moment. I love it so much.
Here are a few of the pictures from the first weekend. Hopefully I’ll be able to get more this next weekend. Resting up and doing all I can to be my best self for it.
Nina; Clara on Saturday
Maddie; Clara on Sunday
Lauren got some incredible pictures of Snow! (Also. Note the huge pile)
My babies. (Please note the feat socks. They’re incredible. Featsocks.com)
Sarah and Liz–my biggest fans
Adult ballerinas, for the win!