Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Little Ballerina

I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company in Seattle. I danced there from 2nd to 5th grade, and even got a part in the battle scene in their annual Nutcracker show. Every night, my parents would take me to the Seattle Opera House (which has since been demolished). I would walk backstage and through the corridors to see the Seattle Symphony musicians gettin their instruments from their lockers. I'd find my mirror and my costume in the dressing room, get my hair in a bun on the top of my head, and go through the make-up line. My mom even volunteered to help with make-up and put on my round-red cheeks (created by cutting a hole in a tupperware lid and smooshing it on my face) one night. It was a magical and memorable experience that will stay with me for a very long time.

I stopped dancing at PNB when I was 12. They wanted me to come to class 4 times a week and I wanted to be a kid. So I started taking jazz and tap at a small studio in the neighborhood. It wasn't much. I actually gained weight while there. My mom did her homework and found another neighborhood studio that taught jazz and ballet, and would I like to audition? I jumped at the chance. I was promptly told that my turnout was too "turned out" and my fingers created the "wrong" sillouhette. But I decided that this was the place for me, and proceeded to sign up with Ballet Arts Magnolia. I was with them for 4 years before I was told that even though I wanted to be a dancer, I didn't have the body for it. With that, and my grades going down, my parents and I decided to just stick with the 1 day a week jazz class.

To this day I miss ballet terribly but won't go back. I have tried ballet classes in the past and it's rough on my joints. I have ankle and knee issues due to all the jumping, pointing, leaping, and for whatever reason, I can't stand up straight to save my life. But I'll never forget those days in the Opera House, or my final solo with Ballet Arts. There was something magical about the expression of dance that will always stay with me.

The above video is from a movie that PNB put out years ago. The featured clip is the Peacock Dance from their Nutcracker production. When I was little, that was the role I wanted.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Camille - FYI, the Opera House wasn't demolished, just completely rebuilt: It's now called McCaw Hall, and the basic structure is the same (they kept the "skeleton" of the frame of the building) only much, much nicer - both onstage and off!

Katy said...

That's so fun! This was also the music I always wanted to dance to, but my company (just a school) always did Ballanchine's version, so this was the 'arabian' dance instead. Still gorgeous. I'm with you on the ballet. I sooooo miss the teacher I had at college. She was great about teaching ballet for adult bodies, so your joints didn't hurt or anyting. Haven't been able to find ANYONE that great here in LA. Sigh.

Brie said...

Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I've never heard the full story of your dance experience! Love you lots!
=) Brie