Behind the Curtain

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13 hours in the theater. 6 quick changes. 3 performances. 2 dress rehearsals. All in 1 busy day.


I glanced at the bruises forming on my feet, and my body was overcome with a state of pure exhaustion. It was my eleventh hour in the theater, and I stood behind the curtain listening to the constant murmur of the crowd as they made their way to their seats. The final show of “The Little Mermaid” was about to begin, and I was minutes away from tackling another ballet with the very little energy that I had left. It is expected that every performance has the same quality, and the audience deserves the same experience every show because tickets all cost the same. This is where it gets challenging and stressful for us, dancers. At the end of the day, fatigue and aching muscles must be concealed by bubbly smiles and seemingly effortless movements which is extremely difficult. I don’t think the audience ever truly realizes what actually goes on backstage, and the beauty of this art form can be very deceiving by the graceful image that we portray.

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All in all, it was great to be back in the theater, but I think ballet officially kicked my butt.

What did you do this weekend? Have you had any performances recently? Are you ready for summer?

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Backstage Secrets

Pas de deux

The house lights start to dim, and hushed voices lead into silence. The orchestra begins to play the first few notes as the curtain rises. The show has begun. Audience members witness the artists’ story, but the other side of the stage remains hidden from them. Behind the backdrop, beyond the Marley floors, and in the depths of the wings lays an unknown world filled with secrets that only dancers share… until today. I have selected my top 6. Enjoy!

Toothbrush Trick: Believe it or not, I blend my hair together with a toothbrush before shows to to remove the dreaded streaks from a wide toothed brush/comb. Gel and hairspray makes hair stick together, so this trick is lifesaving. I have a specific toothbrush dedicated for this purpose, and it has never been used in my mouth. I thought I should clarify.

Calamine: We always have to apply a light layer of calamine onto our new pointe shoes before a performance so they don’t reflect the bright stage lights. Most directors would agree that shiny shoes can be very distracting.

Butt Glue: It isn’t ballet related (DO NOT use this with tights), but this is crucial for contemporary/modern shows when we are only wearing a leotard. We put a line of butt glue on the edge of our leotard so that it doesn’t move onstage. Trust me, it has spared us from countless wedgies. Enough said.

Securing Ribbon: It is practically impossible to tie all of the pointe shoe ribbon around ankles, so the remaining ribbon is tucked in under the knot. However, they occasionally fall out, so we always have to sew them to the top layer with a few stitches with thick thread (dental floss works too).

Weird Words: This was actually my idea, and a few of my fellow dancers still think this is a bit odd… During a long corps de ballet section, we are continuously going on and offstage, and it can be intimidating to run offstage with ten seconds to remember which part of the dance comes next. I create weird words or letters so that I don’t blank out in the wings before my next enterance. I still remember the Friends dance of Copellia was “SAP D-G.” The first time I went offstage, I came back on with my Solo… ran offstage for a few seconds and waited for the Adagio section to begin. I continued to go through SAP D-G until the end of the dance!

Rosin: We often coat the back of our heels with rosin so that our pointe shoes don’t slip off of our feet if they feel loose.

Thanks for reading! Did some of these things surprise you? What are some of YOUR backstage secrets?

Taking Flight

ceremony

During a live performance, nothing is promised, and the audience experiences something new each time the curtain rises. They are able to witness the real-time mishaps and slips that cannot be undone or edited out. Each show is simply an unparalleled mystery to both the dancers and audience members because it is never certain what the outcome will be regardless of the repeated choreography. Even though dancers try to maintain a professional image, we are just like the people in the darkened theater clutching tickets in their palms. We make mistakes. We fall. We have off days just like everybody else. No matter how hard we strive for perfection, we will never be flawless, and that is reality.

peacock

Saturday, we took Flight, a guest-choreographed modern piece, downtown with peacock feathers perched delicately in our hair. To be honest, I am quite disappointed with my performance. It was an incredibly stressful night as things continuously went wrong, and I had to endure that defeated feeling as I took a bow. This piece will be performed again later this season, so I am hoping that we can redeem ourselves. As of right now, we must move on because it is going to be a busy week in the studio as we prepare for Alice in Wonderland in three weeks! I will not waste any more time thinking about the past. We have a ballet to learn. 🙂

The Nutcracker 2018

Last night was even more magical than I imagined as I finally got to perform the role that I had admired ever since I was a very young ballerina! I couldn’t have asked for the snow pas de deux to have gone any better for the shows, and I am so incredibly thankful for my snow king who supported me through it all. Despite the 14 hour-long day that was spent in the theater, this production generated so much positive energy within me, and I really wish that I could rewind the clock to do it again. Even after I came offstage, I could not stop smiling as the sound of applause filled my heart with so much happiness. However, the curtain has officially closed for the Nutcracker, but we will be back in the theater in a month for our production of Alice in Wonderland. I heard that casting will be announced within the next week, so be sure to keep an eye out for it! 🙂

I hope that you all had a fantastic weekend!

Honored

Despite all of the stress and pain that lies behind the curtain, it was such an honor to bring Swan Lake to that stage tonight… This is one of my favorite ballets to watch, and it makes me so grateful to be a part of it. I am beyond thankful to have been cast as one of the four swans, because this is an opportunity that I may never get to have again. I am so happy that I am able to perform this weekend and do what I love with all of these wonderful people… It doesn’t get much better than this.

Snow Queen

kaiNi

gerda

treespirits

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The feeling you get when everyone is watching you is unbelievable…

The feeling you get when you guide the audience through your adventure on an icy tale is indescribable.

The feeling you get when you take a bow as the principle dancer is absolutely incredible,

but the feeling you get when that curtain goes down for the very last time is beyond words.

I don’t even have words that come close to expressing how awesome it felt to dance Gerda. Ever since I was a little girl, it was my dream to land a leading role in a ballet, but I never thought that this dream would come true when it did. Through it all, my friends are the real reason that I was able to pull off a great weekend. From the second the cast list came out to my final bow, they were all there cheering me on… They gave me the strength and confidence that I never thought I had. This experience was better than I had ever imagined, and I will never forget Snow Queen 2017.