Monday, December 24, 2012

Going Nutty

As December rolls along, all dancers know it means the Nutcracker also comes with it, of which most, if not all of us, have VERY mixed feelings about. It's sort of a love-hate relationship.. it's not really the Christmas season without Nutcracker, although you end up going crazy after hearing the same, over-played, dreadful music for 3 months on end. And, let me tell you, those usually are the longest months of the year. We started rehearsing for the Nutcracker at the beginning of October, and the show runs through the end of December, so you can only imagine how one can memorize the entire ballet, as well as learn to sing every single piece of music, in those 3 months. And, to make things worse, radio stations find it amusing to torture us by playing Nutcracker music all too frequently on our favorite Christmas radio stations. It's simply dreadful. Every dancer who has done the Nutcracker knows exactly what I'm talking about. But, then again, getting to experience such a magical ballet for a quarter of the year is some kind of heaven. Every night is a different story as new dancers enact different roles. And, when you are lucky enough to be apart of the cast, you have this awesome opportunity to paint your face in stage makeup, put on a beautiful costume, and perform. There really is nothing like it. Unfortunately, many of us trainees didn't get that chance.. darn you company unions and contracts!! Oh well, I think I can last one year without the Nutcracker stress :)
Even though I wasn't technically apart of the production this year, I got the awesome opportunity to be an assistant and an understudy for a couple parts. I was casted to assist with the Oriental Servants, who dance in the opening of the second act for a few minutes. As a part of this job, I went to all the rehearsals and performances, learning the choreography and going in when one of the servants was absent. You should've seen what a nervous mess I was at every show, going in their dressing room every 10 minutes until I knew all 6 of them were present and well enough to go on stage. "Are you guys are here?? Are you guys all alive?? So I don't have to go in for anyone tonight??" I'm sure they were all sick of hearing my pressing questions after 3 weeks of it :) Sure, it would've been awesome to be able to perform for at least a few minutes, but when you've never rehearsed a piece and you're expected to do it perfectly, it's a little bit stressful to think you might have to just go out and do it.. in front of hundreds of people.. not to mention your maybe future boss. Ya. Just sayin..
I was also lucky enough to be casted as an understudy for Waltz of the Flowers, which was an amazing experience. Me and 11 other trainees got to go to the company rehearsals for either Snow or Flowers! Talk about being the same room as insane good dancers. I will be the first to admit I basically spent those few hours a week staring at all of them with my jaw dragging on the floor.. let's just hope none of them noticed :) We didn't get to do very much in those rehearsals; in other words, we had to stand in the corner and do our best to blend into the walls, which wasn't very hard considering our white leotards matched the white walls pretty well! I guess that is one plus for being forced to wear the most unflattering color on the face of the planet. It's pretty rough when you're in the same room as all these incredible dancers and you're just standing there.. in this ugly leotard.. feeling all "ya, I suck. Pretty much." haha it's a great self esteem booster :) But other than that, I loved it! Because of this crazy contract the company is on, they are only allowed to bring 6 un-paid dancers into the room, and we aren't allowed to dance. I don't understand it myself, but I'm just hoping that it will all pay off in the long run!
After a long few months of rehearsing, we finally got to the theater, which meant even more work for us trainees. We were expected to be at the theater for every performance, all month long. For the most part, we put makeup on about a million little kids and then stood in the wings during the show, making sure everything was going smoothly and sending kids out on stage at the right times. At times, it got.. repetitive, to say the least. Makeup assembly lines for an hour, then two hours of running around getting kids into position and standing in the wings. But, it was really nice to watch almost every show. And it's a very different show watching from the side than it is from the front. I got to see what happens behind the scenes of a real professional show, which was the greatest experience of all. I just can't wait until I get to be in those dancer shoes! Let's hope that day comes soon!

1 comment:

  1. Enjoy reading your blog so much. My daughter may be going to Ballet West this summer and trying for the trainee program. Would love more information about this such as, who teaches the trainees and where the trainees end up who do not make it into Ballet West II!