Tonight was the first night for rehearsal in the theater, and let me tell you it was impressive.
The theater I was used to is a very old theater next door that usually houses plays; This one had ceilings several stories high, a giant stage, all sorts of back drops and everything. Massive. I felt like a part of history.
So many of the other dancers have been doing this all their lives. Even some of the ten-year-olds are on nutcracker four and five and have been dancing as long as I’ve been out of high school. (9 years, folks.)
This was the first time I was in a situation where we were all interacting and mingling with each other, I felt kind of intimidated to be full on approached with some of the “older” dancers. It can be a sort of awkward place for me since I’m older in age but so much younger in skill set; I feel like I should know so much more than I do, which is exemplified by the the fact that so many people have done this so many times (especially my age) that they don’t have the kinds of questions I do. In critiques, I spoke up about how we were told we did awful, and was told to stop digging a hole (not by my teacher, but by someone else) but by that time it was too late and I had already sounded like an idiot. But what are we supposed to do if we keep getting told that we are off the music, when we’ve never been told the proper placement on the music we are supposed to be doing? Not everyone can (or cares to?) try to figure out the music placement, and I don’t want to look like an idiot, ya know? But the group one age set younger than us got to break it down with the music and now they’re so improved and for some reason we can’t get it. And it’s not excruciatingly difficult, I just don’t think we know.
But, my friend Lillian made a good point, “take in everything. Take in the good, take in the bad, and take in the good again. You’ll never have this experience again.” So I’m gonna try to get past my embarrassment of how I feel like I’m starting a new high school off on the wrong foot, or how I’m older and should know/feel/be better and look at the good again.
When we were doing barre warm up, I ended up at the barre with some of the younger ones. One of them asked what I was and I told her and the others that began listening that I was Chinese. They kind of looked at me like “that’s it?” So I told them I’ve only been on pointe a year, and only had the proper shoes since September and only been in ballet 3 years and they told me they’ve been dancing 8 years. And my other Chinese role friend said, “yeah, she’s 26! And only been dancing 3 years and she’s amazing!” Which made me feel really good. ‘Cause I don’t always feel amazing. She later told me I had really good calves, which made me laugh.
Annika and I stuck together most of the time. We were both trying to get a feel for it all, and I kind of am at a disadvantage since I don’t go to school with all these girls like she does. Do I talk all hip? Do I give away how old I am? Where’s the line and what do I say and why is this so hard and weird? But it was fine. The girls were kind.
One of our Chinese girls is an old soul. She doesn’t get caught up in the drama of everything, but instead focuses on working hard and improving and being her best. She tends to stick close to me and today she told me she tends to get along with older people. I like having her around. You can also see her hard work paying off. This girl can balance on releve literally forever.
While we were backstage, I caught myself looking at the ceiling often. The whole place was huge and amazing. How cool is it that someone who started ballet at 23 is able to dance in the nutcracker? Like, how is this possible? I’m a no body. Most places if I were to try and do ballet at this age, I wouldn’t really have much of a chance to grow and improve; it would be recreational and not much more than that. But thanks to Instep, I was able to come in, be vulnerable, look like an idiot, and learn in a safe and nurturing environment that allowed me to grow. There is so often the stipulation that you can only get out all your awkward learning moments when your young and past that you’re just screwed. This is also why I only do ballet. I would love to branch into other styles, but most aren’t able to take the time for adult beginners. Although, there was a 3-month time span where I was able to do tap and jazz at a little studio in a tiny town near my parents house that was so much fun. But to think of how a mere 3 years ago, I was recovering from an injury do to a car wreck, skipping the Holiday Showcase because I was new and sucked too much to even pretend I could get on stage, and here I am now in the Nutcracker, getting compliments from people I hardly know–it’s a place I never thought I would be.
There was a moment when we were working on the final part of the finale where it all felt real; it’s like my mind rewound to last year when I watched nutcracker from the audience, and here I am dancing nutcracker on the stage. How did this happen? How did I get here? What an incredible opportunity this is! I just felt it, and I don’t know if there are words to explain it, but it blew my mind a little.
Overall, it’s a pretty amazing experience. I only wish I could have had more years of this but ya know, maybe I wouldn’t see the value it has if I had grown up in this. I don’t know, but I’m glad to be here now.