I’m living in denial that Nutcracker is already over for this year.
I’ve learned and grown in ways I never expected, and for which I am so beyond grateful.
I got to dance among legends from our company, counted among their fold. I got to hear incredible stories of the days when our guest artists included people like Julie Kent, Paloma Herrera, and Li Cunxin. For once, I wasn’t the oldest in the group. I was the youngest, which is what I was used to growing up and which I didn’t realize I craved. Not necessarily to be the youngest, but to have someone older there to take cues from. I was around women who were also dealing with chronic illnesses. I heard stories of their experiences and was able to apply them to my own life. I was shown 9 different personifications of confidence, and realize that it’s okay to be unashamedly who you are. I laughed, genuinely, more than I ever thought I would and told my own stories to people who cared to listen to them. And not listen to reply, but listen to learn more about me, to retain the information.
We had such a good time on stage. Making each other genuinely laugh to keep the smiles real the entire scene, making inside jokes, truly enjoying ourselves throughout this entire production.
While waiting in the wings, the Party Girls started doing a little dance in time to the interlude music. It was stinking cute, so I decided to join in. They loved it, and I loved getting to have fun with them. It melts your heart, knowing these girls are having the time of their lives. They’re committed and truly enjoyed every moment they had in this role, hearts full of dreams for what their future can hold. Telling each other stories of which Clara was their favorite, and how they were somehow connected to one or another or related to one from years before. It was so precious.
Kids are my favorite. They’re innocent and pure and see life through lenses that are all their own. No one has told them who they can or cannot be yet. They love with their whole hearts and don’t apologize for it. Being with kids is healing for my heart, especially ones like these sweet girls.
I got to do the Nutcracker pass-off, which is where someone sneaks the Nutcracker to Drosselmeyer so it appears to appear out of nowhere. It was a bit of a struggle since my costume wasn’t as big as it needed to be, but I don’t think we did too badly. It was fun, too, and Drosselmeyer was so encouraging. It’s amazing how many different ways there are to mess up that hand off, and he’s really good about playing off mistakes, but I didn’t want to be the cause of one.
I also got to see some of my students in between acts, as they were Cherubs and Angels. It made me so proud to see them perform, even if their role was simple or short. They had so much fun and were so happy to be there. Seeing their passionate little spirits light up their faces brought a warmth to my heart I don’t think I could ever find words for.
On Sunday night, I got to be the Nutcracker at the end. For our show, it closes with Clara being woken up by her parents and walked off to bed, while the Nutcracker doll stays center stage and the life size nutcracker salutes in the back. It’s a simple thing, but has become somewhat iconic with the dancers. It symbolizes the very end of the show and is one that most of the dancers mimic. You don’t realize what a rush it’s going to be until you’re walking out there, by yourself, hitting these marks just right, knowing everyone is looking at just you, copying you in the wings, and that you’re closing out this magical show. It’s such a simple part, but it holds so much. My students got a kick out of the fact that it was me the one night, which made me happy.
After the show, I went out to the lobby where dancers are allowed to go out in costume. It’s one of my favorite things, but something I haven’t gotten to do this year. I made one kid cry, but the rest of the feedback was positive, haha! I took pictures with tons of people I didn’t know, and a few I did. It was cool to hear stories of mom’s bringing their daughters for the first time and hearing how much it meant to them, stories of now-elderly dancers-turned-teachers and what ballet means to her and how important it is to stay in the ballet world, even after your body doesn’t let you dance like it used to. I heard one lady say how she has come for so many years, always wanting a picture with the Nutcracker, and now she finally got one. I had Mom’s of past students recognize it was me (how??) and I got to hug my students and take pictures and just make their day. I gave out autographs, which was kinda hard because I’m not too great at signing things other than my name, and I’m really bad at cursive “n”‘s. But it was so fun.
And here we are, at the end of yet another season. My future very uncertain.
My cardiologist said my heart is just fine, but that I do have POTS ever so mildly, which tells me I can push through my heart weirdness in confidence that at least one organ won’t give out. I have to settle for that being enough, at least for now. I’m out of time until after tax season is over.
I’m nervous, but trying not to dwell on how I’m going to get through the spring. I have to just stay on top of myself and do what I need to make sure I’m the best I can be in my current state. It’s frustrating and so stupid that it’s come to this, but here I am. I have to do what’s best for me.
My heart is so full from this year’s performances. I miss my friends already, even more since I don’t really get to see them in classes. I’m excited to get to choreographing over Christmas break for my baby ballet recital pieces. (and my not-so-baby’s.) I’m hoping I have time to get them all completed before we go back. January signals the beginning of the madness, and I don’t want something like this to get pushed to the side.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday’s, whatever it is you celebrate. I hope you are surrounded by people you love, and that you know how much you matter in this world.
Thanks for keeping up with me and my stories. Please remember that your story matters and is ever so important to tell. No one else has your story, and no one can tell it like you do.
I don’t have as many pictures to post as I would like, but here are a few anyway.
I took far fewer pictures than I thought, and those I did have people in them, and I don’t want to throw them on to a blog without permission.
(I took the liberty of including the Clara’s since their moms read the blog 😊)
(Hi y’all, love you guys)