According to my online source of Shakespeare quotes, the word “confusion” in my title means darkness and destruction… this is important, otherwise it sounds like I spent my weekend confused. Occasionally dazed, perhaps, but not confused.
So yes, this weekend was showtime! And what a show it was. It might not have had the glitz and glamour of Broadway or some big name ballet company, but I was terribly impressed with what we were able to pull together.
The dancers: From pros to tots, everyone brought their all. And yes, there were some pros: a couple dancers originally from the area were kind enough to leave the big city for a few days to take lead roles with us. Such a privilege to have dancers of that calibre in our stead. I watched one little girl of maybe 10 or 11 years old as she stood in the wings staring at Oberon with an rapt expression of awe. So cute! It was also nice to see the young, local talent. The ballet company is affiliated with the studio where I study, but it’s not exclusive to our dancers… auditions are open and we had quite a few dancers who study elsewhere cast in the show. Seems like a great thing all around, changes up the dynamics, brings in some new blood and new enthusiasm and elevates the entire quality of production. And of course the children are just adorable, especially the wee tiny ones that we used as baby faeries (they were about 5-6 years old, so not actual babies, but still).
The costumes: What amazed me was the level of detail that went into each costume. It wasn’t just, “Pull on this dress and dance.” There was a headpiece for everything, whether it was a simple comb with flowers or a headband or an adorable little elf hat; the costume started at the top of the head… and yes, went all the way to the toes, too. I wore three different pairs of tights during the course of the show (quick changes involving sweat and tights is an interesting challenge, by the way) and three different pairs of slippers. This meant that someone spent hours dyeing tights and painting slippers and pointe shoes to be just the right shade of purple, red, or green. It all added up to make the scenes that much more colorful and magical.
The scenery/props: A friend of mine who came to see the show asked where we got the backdrops. He assumed we rented them. No… they’re ours. We have a phenomenal artist person (dancer/dance mom) who designs and lays out the backdrops. People help with the painting, but it all takes place in the studio. How, I don’t know. It’s one thing to draw a picture on a piece of paper, but to transfer it on to an enormous canvas and have it all come out to scale and looking realistic? It seems like magic to me! Then there are all the set pieces and the props. How do they ever keep it all straight? And the creativity that goes into all of it. The fact that someone sat there and thought up all the stuff we needed to tell the story — like, say, fairy lanterns — and then thought up a way to make something that managed to look magical and not just cheap and cheezy.
The dancing: From what I could see was great. Looking forward to getting the DVD so I can actually see what was going on. There were the missteps along the way, but in general I think we all felt good about it. We remembered the choreography, we acted out our roles, and we gave it 100%. Personally, this was probably the most confident I’ve felt in a performance in quite a while. It was kind of nice to have a partner in the two sections I was in with my fellow adults (as a villager and a courtier). I think that helped with some of the jitters because at least you have someone there to laugh with. The other piece, the one with me, four teenagers, and a tambourine… that ended up being my favorite even though it was the most demanding and aerobic! Even the en dehors pirouettes to the left that were tripping me up when we first started rehearsals went well (mostly)… almost zen-like (a note to my brain: see, you can do pirouettes, they’re not hard, stop freaking out about them!).
The audience: Ballet doesn’t exactly draw record crowds in this part of the world, but I think the ticket sales were approximately double that of last year’s production. I had friends and family in the audience and apparently even a coworker came! I got great feedback from everyone, as did my fellow dancers. Not just the obligatory, “Oh, that was nice,” but legit praise.
Of course, the sad part is that all good things must come to an end. Or, “So quick bright things come to confusion.” After a few hectic weeks and a couple fabulous shows, suddenly the costumes and props are packed up, the backdrops come down, and the stage reverts from fairy-land back to big black stage. We’re all left thinking, “Can’t we do it once more?” But better that impression than, “Yikes, oh no, I hope no one I knew saw that!” Leave them (and us) wanting more, right?
“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quiet over-canopied with lucious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.”