Friday, November 2, 2012

Ballet West for Kids

After a performance weekend, you expect to go right back to routine: getting up everyday for ballet class and then rehearsing the rest of the day. And, honestly, after a crazy week in the theater, there's a certain comfort in settling back into that routine. But, as luck would have it, we went straight into our touring week!! And I have absolutely no complaints about that :) I'm sure I've told you about our rehearsals for Ballet West for Kids, our mini Nutcracker show for elementary schools around Utah. We've literally been rehearsing for this since the beginning of the year, so we were well prepared, but I don't think we were prepared for what it would actually be like out there in Nowhereville, Utah.
We left bright and early Monday morning.. you can imagine how much of a joy I was at 6 in the morning. Thank goodness it was a good hour drive to wherever we were going! The minute I got into that van, my head hit the head rest and I was out until we pulled into that first elementary school. Although, napping in the car is never quite successful or satisfying, but you take what you can get! Only 6 trainees got cast to dance; three girls for Clara and three girls for Rag Doll/Chinese for the three groups of people going out. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of those lucky 6, but I was asked to go with one of the groups on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as an understudy in case anyone got sick or injured and to help with set up and take down at each school. I was happy that I at least got to go! It's always fun traveling with the people you work with. You get to know them in a different way than when you just take class with them or rehearse with them everyday.
Let's just say, when you're doing the same thing over and over again for three days, the whole process gets pretty quick and easy. We did three shows a day; two in the morning and one in the afternoon, each at a different elementary school. The first show was always the worst just because I was still have asleep and pretty unpleasant :) but who can blame me! A girl needs her sleep! haha We had to set up a few panels of marley floor either onto a tiny stage or a gym floor, take out and hang up all the costumes for the show and make sure all the props and head pieces were in their place. Then, it was sitting and waiting until the dancers needed you to help them get into a costume or help them take it off. The show started off with a shortened version of a ballet class just to kind of show the kids what we do everyday. Then, there were a series of speeches (by far the most stressful part of the entire tour!! When your profession doesn't ever include public speaking, having to say a short little blip about ballet becomes a frightening chore!) and then a mini version of the Nutcracker. It was fun seeing the kids faces light up when the dancers came out onto the makeshift stage and listening to their silly comments and giggles. And then, just as fast as we came, we rolled up the marley, packed away the props and costumes and headed onto the next school.
Every school was different, but the one that made the most impact on me was the tiny school out in Grouse Park, a town with a population of a mere 45 people... ya I didn't think towns like this existed either!! We drove into this one dirt road city and parked at what could have been the smallest school I've ever seen. Our director met with the principal just to tell him we made it to town and he told us that we would only be performing for 7 kids that day!! I know! 7 kids in the entire school! I could hardly believe it. We had a little time before we had to start setting up so we headed over to the "grocery store", which was pretty much a trailer sized convenient store with 2 short rows of shelves housing cans of soup, baking supplies, and candy. In one corner there was a fridge with a sign saying "Serve Yourself" followed by a list of different dishes that you could pick from the fridge and buy for a couple bucks. On the outside of the store, there was a sign saying that Ballet West was coming to town today and that they should go to the school to watch our performance. I think the whole town knew about our arrival haha! I felt like a celebrity in this tiny, old fashioned town. And by old fashioned, I mean there was still a horse shed where the kids used to park their horses during school, and the church was the biggest building in the city. Although, you'd be surprised at the level of the technology they had in that school!
So, we proceeded as usual; setting up the stage and performing the show, except this time, there were more people in our group than there were actually watching the show. There were 6 kids (one of them was "out working" that day. I can only think an elementary school kid would be working on the ranch at home?? haha I didn't think people still missed school for chores!!Crazy!) and then two teachers and a parent. As weird as it was to only have a 10 person audience, it made it more special for them and for us! We were able to talk to them like real people, instead of just talking at them during the speeches portion of the show. After we finished the performance, they all introduced themselves and gave us a grande tour of their school, which consisted of a library, one classroom, and a little kitchen. Each kid had their own big desk :). One of the girls was a dancer and she got each of our autographs and told us that she drove an hour everyday to get to class. One of the boys was seriously a piano prodigy. I guess when there's nothing else to do in such a tiny town, you just practice the piano!! haha They were all such sweet people though and I'm glad I got to experience such a welcoming, kind group of people. It really shows  you the difference between living in a big, worldly city and living in a place where morals and education are put first. Just something to think about...
After a looong three days of driving for hours, pretending to nap along the way, and setting up and taking down for 9 shows, I got Thursday and Friday off. Thank the heavens. I slept in till noon on Thursday morning, just because I think my body needed to catch up on sleeping after getting only about 5 or 6 hours for the past few days. Then one ballet class and sitting around for the rest of the day. Yay for days off :) But, I am glad that we get to go back to routine on Monday!! It'll be nice to have a real schedule again! As for now, I'm going to bed and hopefully having a lovely Saturday tomorrow :) Until later..

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