It's that time of year again - Nutcracker season. You'll hear the whispers of the dancers in the hallways, "What did you get?"/"I'm in Snow and Flowers"/"Aw, man, a mouse again?" And the sounds of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" on every CD player in every studio everywhere.
Le Studio, where I teach, is no different. We are full-on into Nutcracker rehearsals. My Senior Company began a few weeks ago (and we are almost finished with Snowflakes!) and my Adult group will begin next week (contact me if you are interested!). It's all on track for December 16th, our only show date.
Such a lot of work for just one show! But it's worth it. Rehearsals for a show push dancers in many ways. For one, they often have to perform steps they have never done before so they increase their vocabulary. For another, they are typically working with a group of dancers who have different skills so they see what other people can do. And yet another, they want to look their best so they work harder in classes.
Choreography also tests dancers. Some of the most talented dancers in class will frequently choke when it comes to dancing on stage. Choreography for a class is vastly different than for stage work. There is a lot of acting involved on stage. There are patterns to be made. There are entrances and exits. And yes, the pieces are far longer and more complex. You must memorize steps and music and somehow avoid running into other people. And look good while doing it. It's not for everyone and sometimes you won't even know it's for you (or not) until you try it.
Some of the simplest things are hard on stage. Walking. Running. Posing. Smiling. Often you can't hear the music or you get sidelined by other dancers who are in the wrong place or there is suddenly a tree where you used to stand in the studio. The first time you perform can be wildly different from what you expected it to be. And that's fine! It's all a learning experience and the next time you do it, you will have that much under your belt.
But of all the things a show does for a dancer, perhaps the most important one is the bond that it creates between the members of a group. You are all going through the same thing, all learning the same stuff, all have the same goal in mind: entertain your friends and family and show off what you have studied. You graduate from students to dancers. When I put together groups for shows, I try to include dancers who will encourage each other and support each other. Who needs drama? The show is dramatic enough. If there is extra stuff going on, that will prevent people from learning the choreography and bog people down in personal things that are ultimately detrimental to the performance.
NB: My classes are also back on track! Stretch/Strengthen is back on Fridays, 5:30-6:30. Happy dancing!