Tag - ballet

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One More Dream Fulfilled
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Happy Sigh
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Dreams, Fulfilled
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Consider Yourself…
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Post-Nutcracker Glow
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Q is for
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Send Help!

One More Dream Fulfilled

Pumpkin Girl has danced in her ballet school’s pre-professional company’s Nutcracker for the last three years. She’s been a tumbler in the Mother Ginger scene, a party girl, a battle soldier, and a ribbon girl. CharlotteSoldierAnd for the first two years, the role of Fritz was actually played by an actor. He did a great job until last year when they decided to use a dancer – a girl- in the role, and that started Pumpkin Girl thinking.

In her company’s Nutcracker, Fritz is a big role. He doesn’t disappear after the party scene, but follows Clara back to the family room and they both fall asleep near the Christmas tree. He helps her fight off the rats in the battle scene and then accompanies her to the Land of the Sweets, staying with her through the entire show. The role requires good acting skills, as Fritz provides the comedy relief for the whole show. And with a dancer in the role, Fritz now dances  in the Winter Scene, as well as the whole Russian variation.

Pumpkin Girl set her sights on being Fritz and thought about it all winter long and through the spring. She couldn’t figure out how to let her artistic director know she wanted the job, because part of being a company dancer (in any company) is that you accept the role you are given and do your best. And yet, this was a role that not every girl would even want. Plus, she knew that the previous girl Fritz had been given the rare chance to turn it down. So maybe, just maybe, it would be OK to ask. Because wouldn’t it be sad for the role to go to someone else because the director didn’t even know Pumpkin wanted it? She asked the advice of her favorite ballet teacher, who also happened to be her Broadway dance teacher. She was the one who’d cast Pumpkin as both Sebastian in “Under the Sea” and as The Artful Dodger in “Consider Yourself.” She understood Pumpkin’s love for acting, knew her ballet skill and worked closely with the artistic director. With her guidance, Pumpkin wrote a letter letting the AD know that if she needed a new Fritz, Pumpkin would love the job.

And then we waited. All summer we talked about it. Was her dancing good enough? What if last year’s Fritz wanted to be Fritz again? What if they brought in an actor again? What if they gave it to another dancer?

It was a long summer.

And finally, early in August, the day came. A dancer/parent company meeting was held, with the casting list to be posted afterwards. I swear that meeting took forever and I was a tense mess the whole time. The meeting ended and I did a great job of not tearing down the hallway with the rest of the dancers.

I’m sure you know where this is going.

Pumpkin Girl was indeed cast as Fritz and I cried, because that’s what moms do. I even made the moms of her friends tear up because I was so happy.

FritzCostume

Her company’s Nutcracker was two days before Christmas. They sold out two shows, a total audience of over 3,000 people. And she was amazing, absolutely amazing. Every person who talked to me afterwards told me what a wonderful job she did. She was a lovably naughty Fritz and laugh out loud funny.

Clara and Fritz in the same year! That girl never ceases to surprise me. This was the best Nutcracker season ever.photo(24)

Five days later, she turned 13 years old.  It was a banner year for her.

(And incidentally, I will have a teenager in the house, without a break, for the next 19 years.)

Happy Sigh

It was an amazing weekend.

So many memorable moments from backstage, but they are Pumpkin Girl’s stories to tell.  As for me, I was an emotional mess in the final 10 minutes before the show and the long, long overture.  And then she ran on stage to see the Christmas decorations in her house and it was nonstop from there.  She was amazing in every way and I just sat back and enjoyed every minute.  Two hours later and it was over too soon.

Then on Sunday I was offered the chance to sit backstage and watch the whole show – and I did! It was equally as wonderful, but in a different way.  I had my camera ready for the moment it was all over.  I took this picture of my beautiful girl at the close of her first major leading role.  My Clara and her Nutcracker Prince.

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Happy sigh.  I am so proud of her.

Dreams, Fulfilled

The first time I ever saw “The Nutcracker” I was about 8 years old.  My imagination took over and I spent the next several days dancing around my living room in my white nightgown, pretending to be Clara.  I never really wanted to be a dancer, though.  We went to see “The Nutcracker” at least once more during my childhood and that was that.

Years later I find myself as the mother of a dancer.  When we moved to Colorado she had the opportunity to audition for the local production of  Nutcracker.  Like so many other young girls, she had dreams of Clara. Maybe, someday, when she was just a little older.

She was a sheep in the shepherd scene that first year.  Nothing cuter than a line of dancing sheep, linking arms like they are little swans.  The next year she was part of what is called the “mini variations” – smaller versions of the Chinese, Arabian, Marzipan and Russian dances.  Mostly they just run around in the finale, looking cute.

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The next couple of years she was a party girl, one of the most sought after roles.  The party scene is the longest one that the children dancers participate in and the girls wear pretty dresses and boingy fake curls.  The party scene is a lot of fun, but I really don’t remember much of it because I was mostly watching Pumpkin Girl.

Actually, I’m kind of a nervous wreck right before she goes on.  And Nutcracker has the longest overture ever.  EVER.  Seriously, cut to the chase and let’s see my girl! I knew exactly which family she was a part of and when she was coming on. Poor Boo, who usually sits next to me, has to deal with the death grip I have on his arm and me whispering, “There she is!  There she is!  Do you see her?”

NutcrackerParty

It’s tough as a mom, having to sit back and watch and wait.  I’m so glad none of my kids are Olympic level competitors.  I don’t think I have it in me!  I remember the first time Pumpkin had a lead role.  Her Broadway class was doing “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid,” which is Sebastian’s song.  And Pumpkin was Sebastian.  Her number was first in the show and since the kids were actually singing as they danced, she had the only speaking part in the whole show as she told Ariel that “the human world is a mess, life under the sea is better than anything they’ve got up there!”

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I was a wee bit tense as the lights went down and the stage was lit with a dreamy, ocean backdrop.  I knew she was standing riiiiight there, behind the curtain, waiting to side-walk on.  I think Boo’s finally getting feeling back in his arm, two years later.

And then last year, she was asked to join the Beginning Broadway class as The Artful Dodger in the song “Consider Yourself.”  That just happens to be the Artful Dodger’s song, by the way.  And due to an administrative mistake, her tap number was right before “Consider Yourself.”  She had to leave tap a few seconds early, stage left, in this costume…

tap (3602)

And reappear, stage right, in time to take the lead in this costume…

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I don’t think I even breathed from the moment she left the stage until I saw her pop out and I quickly checked to see that she’d gotten the whole costume on correctly.

Seriously, dance momming is not for the weak of heart.

Anyway.  Back in August she trudged off for yet another Nutcracker audition.  She thought she did well, but who really knows with these things?  Casting took forever – forever!!!- to be posted.  The wait nearly killed me.  It was far worse than waiting to see if she’d remember to exchange her tap shoes for jazz shoes before reentering the stage.

And I convinced myself of all sorts of things.  Or tried to.  Yes, she has wanted to be Clara for a couple of years now, but most girls will not be Clara and they all go on to live normal, healthy lives, right?  And really, Clara is a lot of work.  And she needs to use her own curled hair, not fake and wow, I don’t want to even attempt to get her hair to curl like that.  And seriously, I am never going to be able to sit in that audience and wait through that interminably long overture and not burst into tears.  No, don’t really want her to be Clara, it would be much easier on me if she isn’t.

You know what happened right?

Pumpkin Girl is Clara.

Next weekend.

It takes me 2 1/2 hours to curl her hair.

Boo refuses to sit next to me.

Consider Yourself…

Guess who is playing the Artful Dodger?

ArtfulDodger

(Please excuse my blurry phone photo.  She had just finished with her fitting and I was standing mostly in the hallway, trying to be quick.)

Pumpkin Girl was asked to be the Artful Dodger in the beginning Broadway class (she is actually in the intermediate level) when they do “Consider Yourself” from the musical “Oliver”.  Very cool to be asked to come in just for that role, especially when it is the lead.

Can I say I’m just a little bit proud of her?  Ok, a whole lot proud of her?  And doesn’t she make the cutest darn Artful Dodger out there?

Post-Nutcracker Glow

So we say goodbye to another successful Nutcracker production. It was a wonderful weekend, but not without drama.

As I mentioned earlier, Philip got sick the weekend before Thanksgiving. It was the stomach flu that seems to be going around. It wasn’t the worst virus ever, but it wasn’t any fun at all. Are viruses ever fun, really? He took 2 days off work and was feeling better the same day I started getting sick. At first I was in denial. My stomach was hurting because of the fettucine alfredo that I’d eaten without a Lactaid the night before. Yeah, that’s what it was! And that chill I was feeling, that’s because the house was a little cold. Right? No. I was getting sick, too.

I’m not a good sick person. I whine and moan and wonder (aloud) why no one will help me already. So that’s what I did with my Saturday. Sunday I was much better, but not enough to go to church. Boo stayed home, too, because his stomach hurt and he was chilled. That’s about as much as he got and was up and about by late afternoon.

So that made 3 down, 3 more to go and Nutcracker costume fittings and blocking just 3 days away. I set everyone I knew to praying for Pumpkin Girl, praying that she would be able to dance. I worried and fretted and just refused to give it up to God. I don’t do that very well, especially when it involves my children. I just kept imagining me holding her while she cried her heart out over being too sick to dance. All that hard work, all those hours of rehearsal…ah, just too much for a mother to handle! So I fretted and worried and asked for more prayers.

Wednesday came and her stomach started to hurt. She wasn’t very hungry. Nerves? Gas? Something else? Who knew! She got ready for the costume fitting and Philip drove her there. He called me from the theater to tell me that she’d gone off to the bathroom and thrown up, but felt better. I cried. I shook my fist at the sky. Why, Lord? WHY? Couldn’t she have been sick on Monday?

When she came home she was nauseated and uncomfortable, but not feverish. Her first show was in 48 hours so we still had time for her to recover. And recover she did. We postponed Thanksgiving dinner in order to let her stomach completely rest and recover. Friday she had 2 rehearsals and opening night. Philip watched the dress rehearsal so he could stay home with Pipsqueak who, at 13 months old, is not a good theater companion.

Seriously, when will I just learn to let God be God? I do know that things don’t work out according to MY plans, but that everything really is ok in the end. And sometimes, my plans work out, too. And that’s what happened here.

I’m sure that the rest of the party scene was wonderful, but I only had eyes for Pumpkin Girl. She had a chance to do quite a bit of acting in this production and I really enjoyed watching her. She had a whole new on-stage family, parents and two sisters. She interacted with them all, ooo’ed and ah’ed over the life-size “dolls”, performed a dance with the other party children, got hypnotized by Drosselmeyer and cried when the Nutcracker got hurt. She and her sisters allowed their parents to take their sleepy selves home and on the way out of the party, she got a huge stack of presents dropped in her arms. I couldn’t have been happier for her.

At the cast party on Sunday, she was busy collected autographs from her friends and the professional company members. We got a picture of her with her parents.

I won’t miss the Sunday rehearsals, but I am sad that this Nutcracker is over. There is yet one more production to go, though! Her ballet company is doing a set of shows on December 20th. They sell DVDs of that one, so we’ll get to relive it as often as we’d like.

Send Help!

I’ve been sucked into the Nutcracker Rehearsal Vortex!

Pumpkin Girl is at the ballet studio 5 days a week and has learned the joy and comfort of an epsom salt soak.

In other, non-ballet related news, my life is also dominated by soccer and scouts.  Soccer practices, soccer games, snack schedules and equipment.  I decipher the schedule and note it all on the calendar so we know where and when each game is being played and in which uniform.  Then there are scout uniforms, scout meetings, scout popcorn sales, merit badge colleges, go-see-its, camping trips…It’s a wonder my head hasn’t exploded yet.

The good news is that soccer season ends this Saturday.  Actually, I enjoy soccer season but this year Boo’s practices are 25 minutes away, twice a week.  So I’m glad practices are over, but I’ll miss the games.  And now that it’s November (November!!!), Nutcracker 1 is on the h0rizon.

And just to keep things interesting, Pumpkin Girl and I have decided to open our own business.  Gives us something to do in all our spare time.  More details later.

Seriously, send help.  Or at least egg nog.

 

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