Still Pointe's auditions for our winter concert are coming up. We thought you'd enjoy this beautiful essay written by one of the cast members of last year's concert.
Friday night at seven, I stand behind a pair of rust-red curtains. The opening music drifts from the speakers, and a hush falls over the audience as the warm notes slowly permeate the room, signaling the start of the ballet. Adrenaline rushes through my body, seeping my every limb with excitement and terror. I clench my teeth as I wait for my cue. I probably look half-mad: I am jumping a bit, even shaking my arms up and down. Anything but think of the audience, sitting in silent anticipation. I turn to my friend and fellow dancer.
“You’re going to do amazing, Margaret!” she insists.
I’m not so sure. We briefly hug, and I whisper to her a word of encouragement as well. I turn back to face the empty stage, waiting to be filled with movement. The music is still playing, shifting into a slightly less heavy, more carefree-sounding section. My stomach is butterfly-filled, my legs Jell-O. My mouth is so dry I’m not certain I can smile. It’s almost time to start. A few more notes, and then it begins. I begin.
I see the blur of white ovals in the dark of the wings-- the faces of my fellow dancers, the faces of my close friends. These friends are expecting me to walk on stage and begin the production we’ve all worked so long and so hard on. I take a deep breath. Please, God, I pray silently, stay with me here. I can’t do this without you.
I hear my note, the note that signals me to the stage, and to my either glorious, or not-so- glorious introduction to the ballet Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I rise up to demi-pointe, put on my most radiant grin, and hesitantly step out from the back wing, onto the stage. Blinding golden light hits my face, and I can feel my pupils dilating as my eyes adjust. The pale yellow skirt of my dress begins to billow softly around me, almost comfortingly, as I begin to dance--dancing the part of Snow White herself.
Oh, so she’s that girl, you might be thinking. And I know what you mean. That girl who started ballet when she was three, that girl who’s so flexible she could easily be a contortionist, who has always been at the top of her class, and always will be. That girl who walks into an audition with confidence, undaunted. The sort of girl who writes an essay about being the lead in a production just because she can. But no. Actually, I’m not that girl, and I don’t think I ever will be.
In fact, I’m pretty much the opposite.
When I was nine, a late starting age for a dancer, I began ballet at a small studio called Still Pointe. At first, I attended classes once a week, and my mom would make up all sorts of fun games to make the hated task of pulling on my tights more enjoyable. Sometimes the tights would get a minute or so in the dryer in order to warm them up, and other times my mother would hold them out and I would jump into them, a game that was abruptly ended as soon as we ripped a pair of brand-new $18 tights.
I hated tights.
But I loved ballet. I fell especially hard for it roughly three years ago. However, my twin sister, who had always danced alongside me, decided to quit. I was astonished. Quit? How can anyone put the words “ballet” and “quit” into the same sentence? I wondered. As my sister said goodbye to ballet forever, my passion for dance increased and continues to grow.
I love it all—the comforting rond de jambs that create semi-circles on the gray marley that lines the studio floors. I adore adagios, during which your body is always moving, growing, reaching. I love the buzz of a recital, with its makeup, costumes and live audiences. I like the feeling of a good clean arabesque, when suddenly I find myself balancing on the edge of a wispy cloud overlooking a sky splashed with the pastels of a sunrise. I hold deep respect for the piano music that dance cannot exist without. All of these things, and many more, play a part in my passion for ballet.
This love overshadows the fact that I’m an introvert, I’m not very flexible by dance standards, I’m unusually tall for a dancer, and I started late. If I’d ever tried to enter a fancy dance school in Russia, they would’ve taken a split-second glance at me and my non-ballet-built body and wave me away. Nyet! My showing up probably would’ve made for a great laugh over their lunch break, as a matter of fact.
However, I’m very blessed. I’m blessed to be acquainted with Jesus Christ, who teaches me that what he has given me is enough for his plan for my life. I’m blessed to live in America, where dance is slightly less rigorous and demanding of perfect genes than it is in Europe. I’m blessed to live a mere 20 minutes away from Still Pointe, a place where anyone who wishes to dance is accepted and loved, a place where I see my closest friends five days a week, a place where we often start class in prayer, and a place that, in less than two years, I’ll be completely heartbroken to leave behind when I depart for college.
I was also blessed to be cast with the part of Snow White. After I auditioned for the ballet, my family went on a trip to Kentucky to see my uncle’s wedding. The day the cast list was supposed to come out was the date of the rehearsal dinner. We were all seated around beautiful white tables adorned with a motley of flowers, and served with excellent food, food I could barely manage to swallow because I was so tense for that cast list to arrive in my email inbox. I kept checking my phone under the table (quite rudely) until I finally saw the loading bar of a new email. I excused myself from the table, and frantically stumbled down a hall until I found an appropriate venue to receive the news, where no one could see my reaction: the bathroom. I clicked on the email with trembling fingers, and when I read my name next to the part of Snow White, a few tears of joy slipped down my cheeks. Somehow I ended up sitting crisscross-apple-sauce on the tiled floor, rocking side to side in disbelief, chin tilted upward as I thanked the Giver of all gifts for the part. I went back to the table, a big teary, snotty mess, and quietly told my parents the news.
So, after months of rehearsals, preparations and prayers, I finally slipped into a beautiful costume and donned a bright red bow. Somehow, despite my nervousness backstage, I was able to dance fully and joyfully once I stepped onstage. With God’s hand guiding me, the worries seemed to melt away.
Time slowed down, and I became Snow.