Anna Pavlova, the brilliant, legendary and eccentric turn-of-the-century dancer who revolutionized the practice of ballet, once declared that if she could not dance, she would die.
Most little girls want to be ballerinas. But only a few actually do it. Because the business of ballet, as it turns out, is a lot different than it may seem in childlike imaginations. Not as many tutus as you would think, and many more gnarled and bloody feet than you would ever expect. A few opportunities to shine, but many opportunities for hard work and disappointment.
But if you feel like Pavlova did, you don’t have a choice. Dance or die.
I attended the Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy for several years as a tween/teenager and found it to be an extremely rewarding, if challenging, experience. I was fortunate to participate in the Milwaukee Ballet Company’s production of "The Nutcracker" for two years as a Toy Soldier. For a dozen nights in December I slicked my hair back, wore a white spandex suit and mask and marched out onto the Uihlein Hall stage, pretending to be a boy.
Not exactly a romantic tableau – but it was one of the best times of my life. Some girls have trouble forgetting their first boyfriends – I have trouble forgetting ballet. Even though I moved on, I will always be a ballerina at heart. And when I hear Tchaikovsky’s score for the "battle scene" between the mice and toy soldiers, I’ll always hear the voice of Nancy McCloud, Milwaukee Ballet School and Academy teacher, counting off the steps to the carefully choreographed fight.
I’ve always been grateful to the school for allowing me and many other young artists the opportunity to study and perform with professionals in a field we love. Twelve years after my time there, the Milwaukee Ballet continues to allow students the opportunity to audition for roles in the annual company production of "The Nutcracker" (as well as several other productions, depending on the need for children dancers). "The …Read more...