Called to learn
Alessandra Ortiz: Hot Chocolate, Waltz of the Flowers, Snow Scene
What a joyous end to the unbearable anticipation of waiting to discover what my future holds for the next two months. I would be learning and rehearsing three pieces from George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker with professional corps members of The Pennsylvania Ballet. As you could imagine, my schedule was intense. I’m talking eight hours a day, five days a week which is why I am writing about this experience for you now in the new year.
The day casting went up was also the first day of rehearsal for Snow and Flowers. From that moment on, I could pretty much say I was wearing pointe shoes more often than not, more often than regular shoes at least.
Two and half weeks later, I, along with several other girls from my class, had been taking regular ballet classes on top of rehearsing Snow, Flowers, and Hot Chocolate at least four times a day each. The competition was growing rapidly among us for there was only a limited amount of spots to be filled in the corps for the performances. Remember: we, as students, were only called to learn the dances, not to perform them. We had to be chosen (or not) to perform alongside the company dancers.
Unfortunately for me, during this critical time, I had developed a toe injury which forced me to stay off my feet for thirteen days. Thirteen days. That’s a lifetime in this fast-paced business. I was almost certain I wouldn’t be chosen to perform. Of course I was watching rehearsals from the sidelines, but I couldn’t participate. By this point, I was undoubtedly heartbroken.
Refer back a few posts to the one entitled Listen to Your Body.
If it wasn’t apparent then, it sure is now. The only reason I was able to get back on my toes in thirteen days was because I did exactly that; I listened to my body. Resting was not easy, especially if you are someone like me who likes to be on-the-go at all times, but it was what I so desperately needed. Luckily, the artistic staff understood my injury and knew that it would not be of concern for much longer. We received the dates and final casting of the performances that night. I was cast in 11 shows.
We moved from the studios to the stage. My toes were making a full recovery and I was finally able to focus again on refining every last detail of each dance. The positive energy and excitement brought to the theatre by the company and staff made it possible to get through some of the last lengthy and grueling rehearsals. I knew it would be the same for the 27 shows to come.
The company had already performed six shows, but December 17th was my debut.
I successfully performed the 11 shows I was given. The support my family and friends gave by coming to the shows made it an even better experience.
With all that being said, I am really looking forward to my second semester as a student here at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet and I hope to perform again very soon!