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?

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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. 🙂

A New Perspective

hourlives

Looking back, I am so thankful that I pushed all of the hesitation aside and took advantage of the opportunity to choreograph HOUR LIVES. This experience gave me a new perspective of my role as a dancer…

*I realized that the dance is a puzzle and the dancers are the pieces. If one of those pieces are missing, the entire puzzle is incomplete.

*I learned that is very important to “sweat the small stuff.” Little details (like angles and head placement) might seem insignificant, but they glue the entire dance together.

*I found out how crucial communication between the dancers and choreographer is. If there is a problem, it is important to speak up so that it can be corrected as soon as possible. Sometimes, the only way to fix a problem is to change the next sequence of steps, and that is very difficult to do on limited time.

This was definitely not an easy task… There are many moving parts in a dance that all need organization and separate movements, and it was very stressful at times. However, the reward of watching my “vision” come alive was absolutely incredible. This is definitely something that I will consider doing again in the future, and I want to thank all of my dancers for being so understanding with me. You all were amazing, and I couldn’t have wanted for a better group. Thank you!

Grande Finale

This weekend, we took our final bow for the 2017-18 season, and it was a very bittersweet moment… This season was filled with so many incredible opportunities that I never imagined I would ever receive, and it is crazy to think that it is already over.

Heartwarming memories from my very first principal role from Snow Queen overwhelmed me…

The 4 Little Swan choreography from Swan Lake washed over me…

Flashbacks from Canary Fairy in Sleeping Beauty made my feet start fluttering…

I remembered how proud I was to see my very own choreography about HOUR LIVES take that stage…

I recalled wearing the bubbly head pieces from a mixed rep show…

Dancing as a poppy in the Wizard of Oz was an experience that I will never forget…

Thank you to all of my followers and supporters who have been there for me through it all! It was a great year. 🙂

Work in Progress

hello!

Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, a new contemporary work by a guest choreographer, as well as trying to recall our modern piece from the previous season (originally set for the college project) has definitely kept us incredibly busy this past week! Now that our long Christmas break is approaching, we are rehearsing long hours to try and put our shows together on time. We will be back onstage very shortly after we return!

*Speaking of Sleeping Beauty, I don’t think that I have revealed the casting yet. I am very pleased to announce that a very good friend of mine will be dancing as Aurora in this magical February production! I am so excited to watch her perform this role and shine her talent under that spotlight. I received the Canary Fairy, peasant corps de ballet, and waltz corps de ballet. There is so much to do, but I am super excited to see this ballet come together. I think that it is going to be a great show!

As of right now, I think I am going to sit back and enjoy this weekend… Where is my hot chocolate and fuzzy blanket? 🙂 The countdown to Christmas has finally begun.

23 Days