Okay, time for the nitty-gritty recap of the performances.
Or at least my performances.
One of the negatives of being part of the show is that you never actually get to SEE the show. Bits and pieces of it, of course, in rehearsal or from backstage, but for the most part there remain a fair number of mysteries. I’ll have to wait until the DVDs come in to see what all was going on when I was backstage. I heard we made some fun new additions to the opening and party scene that I can’t wait to see.
So for my dances.
First up was snow scene.
Funny, last year this was the most stressful piece for me. This year, I’d say it was the least. Not that it wasn’t still long and strenuous, but I was much more comfortable with it. I remember last year being unsure of the choreography right up until the show. This year it was pretty much all review with just a couple tweaks here and there. I felt as though I could just dance it, which is a great feeling.
And for the snow itself… Last year I was freaked the eff out about the fake flakes falling on stage. I was so terrified of slipping and landing on my arse. This year I didn’t even notice it. Okay, I didn’t notice it except for the parts where I had to stand directly in the line of fire (or, uh, the line of ice?). And those parts encompassed about the entire last minute of the scene. It’s very hard to remain beatific when trying desperately to not inhale/swallow synthetic snow. It’s also very hard not to crack up laughing at the situation. The final performance I think they were trying to use up whatever was left of the snow so it was full-force blizzarding. I was supposed to do a chassée into first arabesque and I had to push my foot through a good inch or two of accumulation. Hahaha!
Next up was the presentation of the sweets… which wasn’t really remarkable. You know, just running out, bowing to Clara, and then delivering her and the Nutcracker prince a couple cups of tea with my fellow soloist. I opted to be in charge of the teapot for that part, as the idea of holding a tray of cups seemed fraught with more potential for disaster. Easy-peasy.
Then quickly whipped off the tea costume backstage and jumped into the Spanish costume.
Hot Chocolate was probably the most fun dance of them all, though rehearsals were a bit of a comedy. First off the whole boy recruitment was the typical merry-go-round. We have a few guys we regularly call upon so that filled three of the four slots, then there was a fourth guy that we rounded up from somewhere. The first few rehearsals only two of the guys showed up. One of the others was always travelling on business and the fourth… who knows. Eventually #4 dropped out (big surprise), so we were back down to three and we were getting closer and closer to the show. Eek. Then fate did smile on us… one of the guys we used to use regularly had graduated from high school and joined the Marines, but by chance was assigned to work locally for a few months. He showed up on the doorstep one day asking if we needed him to do anything for Nut. As a matter of fact… We did some shuffling of partners as I was originally set to pair with the business traveller. But the Marine is taller. So being the tallest girl (at a whopping 5’4″!) I got paired with him and the business traveller went with the other unpaired girl. It all felt a bit last minute, but thankfully all the guys were familiar with the piece. The partnering was pretty easy stuff, but having not partnered in a couple years (and never for ballet) it was a different experience for me. Mostly just some dips and lifts. I have to say it’s hella fun to have someone lift you during an Italian pas de chat. It’s like flying. Whee! The hardest part of the partnering was actually the costumes, which consisted of velvet leotards with a Spanish skirt tacked over top. In spite of being tacked the waistband of the skirt had a tendency to travel A LOT. It’s a little frightening to be in the middle of a lift and feel that the guy was still holding the same part of the costume, but you yourself had slipped a few inches down. The guys did a great job, though, and no one got dropped. All in all a fun piece.
Then back offstage to quick change back into the Tea costume.
Tea. Sigh. Tea. My crowning achievement was scoring a soloist role and this was it and it really didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. I struggled with this one from day one and I have no idea why. It’s not like it’s a particularly long piece (it’s actually only about a minute long) and the choreography wasn’t difficult. But I felt intimidated by it from day one and unfortunately was never able to shake the feeling. The first performance I felt went well… the second two were meh. Not bad, but I went for demi-pointe on the last few pirouettes from fifth — doesn’t affect the overall thing, but I knew I was half-assing it. I just couldn’t seem to keep my core when I did it on pointe. And of course our director didn’t watch the first show that went well and did see the other two that weren’t so stellar. I really wanted to impress her (and myself) and I felt like it was a big let-down. I’m not beating myself up over this (what’s done is done), but I really wish I could’ve gotten a do-over. Or at least channelled whatever feeling I had in the first show into the other two.
You know what it was? The first show… it didn’t feel like the show. We usually have warm-up class beforehand and we were told to do warm-up on our own and used the time to re-block the Snow scene. Without that pre-show ritual it didn’t feel real. So I just went out there and was all, whatever, blah blah. Which sounds terrible, but really? That’s where I need to be in performance. Not freaked out, not worrying about anything, just going out there and dancing… being in the moment and enjoying it.
Anyway, after Tea the stress was done… all that was left was to run back out to bow to Clara and the Nutcracker again and wave good-bye as they were pulled offstage in their sleigh. Then curtain call time!
It would have been nice to feel like there was one performance where I really nailed all of my pieces, but I ended up spreading it around. Tea was best in show one. Snow was best in show three. Hot Chocolate… show two was probably the one where I felt bounciest.
In a way it felt good to get the show behind me after the all the weeks of preparation. But I heard some Nutcracker music a couple days ago and suddenly got sad that it’s over for the year. I do have fickle emotions, don’t I?
For now I’ll enjoy the rest and recouperation time and look forward to seeing the photos and video of the show… and, of course, whatever performance comes next!