This weekend I am on tour in Ottawa, Canada performing George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker with the Pennsylvania Ballet. How awesome is that? We arrived around 8 on Tuesday night after an excruciatingly long 10-hour bus ride that was not without a few frightening moments. The first happened just one hour into our journey. The built-in DVD player on the bus stopped working halfway through our first movie. Fabulous. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to occupy myself for 10 hours without a movie or two. I don’t think I was alone either, no one was pleased that it broke. After two hours of driving, per union rules, it was time for our first 20 minute rest to get off the bus for a snack, bathroom, smoking break, or other desired activity. Wonderfully, by some stroke of magic, the DVD player was fixed and in full working condition as we all piled back on to the bus. We were saved from a slow boredom-ridden demise. We got back on the road and things started running smoothly again. We stopped again, this time we had an hour for lunch so I made sure to get in a good 20 minutes or so of power walking around the mall where we stopped. Back on the bus again. The sun went down. We crossed the border. Everyone was allowed to enter Canada. We stopped again. But wait, we weren’t at a rest stop, we were on the side of the road. The lights turned off. The bus stopped running. Everyone searched for answers with panicked looks. It was pitch black outside and we were stopped on the side of the highway in the middle of nowhere. (Yes this sounds like a scene from a horror movie but this truly happened). I was expecting us to be there for a while. Maybe we ran out of gas? The lights came on and off a few more times until finally the bus engine started purring again. As we pulled back on to the road a voice from the front of the bus called back informing everyone to unplug everything from the outlets on the bus. Apparently all the electronics was too much for the bus to handle. Interesting. Two movies and one more (actual) rest stop later and we finally made it to our hotel. The bus was unloaded and room keys were passed out. Almost all the dancers have rooms on the same floor of the hotel. Once we all got settled my roommate and I roamed the halls and gathered a group together to go out and explore Ottawa. We didn’t wander very far because it was dark and rainy but we went far enough to get Canadian dollars from an ATM and have dinner. The travel day was done and now the fun begins.
The next day we had leisurely morning, class at the theatre wasn’t until noon. We took class on stage and started right away into a full day of rehearsals. The first few hours were devoted to Act 2. Being mostly dancing and few logistics there was not much stopping. We were given a short break for dinner before starting the rehearsal of Act 1. Having many more features such as children, growing trees and a battle, the first act rehearsal had much more stopping and starting, but that was expected.
I love being in the theatre. It is such an exciting place to be and it means that I am (or going to be) performing. Performing is my favorite part of being a ballet dancer. It brings me such a feeling of elation that words just cannot describe. It is my happy place. When I am on stage nothing else matters but me and what I can give to the audience. The Nutcracker is a particularly special performance because this production is more often than not the first ballet many young children attend. I hear stories all the time of professional dancers who realized they want to pursue a career in ballet after seeing their first ballet: The Nutcracker. I want to be the reason that a little child in that audience turns to his or her parents to beg for ballet classes.
Tonight is opening night! We are in Ottawa from December 1st to the 4th then return to Philadelphia for a full run of performances starting on the 10th and running through the 31st. If you are interested in going to a show check out Pennsylvania Ballet and support the arts!