Sophie’s only wish last year was to dance in the Nutcracker. With that wish, I re-enrolled her in ballet class at Tampa Bay Ballet. It worked out perfectly this past semester, because she was the only one in her class. She received private lessons all semester, even though that was not our intention. The studio is very busy and all classes are mostly full, but for some reason, Sophie was the only one who signed up for this particular class. I was thrilled and so was she. She has grown a lot in a few months because of it. When it was time for Nutcracker rehearsal, she was not feeling well, so instead of auditioning, the director just assigned her two parts instead. She was cast as a demi angel and a baby mouse.
Every Saturday for 8 weeks, she dedicated her afternoons to rehearsal. Some Saturday’s she dreaded it, but most times she was happy to be there. After many long rehearsals, especially the week before, it was finally time for showtime. Tuesday December the 22nd was the last dress rehearsal before the big day, and it took place at the theater, Ruth Eckerd Hall. We packed a lunch box of snacks, her iPad, paper and pencils and her favorite stuffed dog in preparation for her long 5 hour rehearsal. Fortunately the theater is only 5 minutes from our house, so Sara and I were able to drop her off and spend some quality one on one time together, finishing Christmas shopping and enjoying dinner, just the two of us. I love when I get one-on-one time with either of my girls.
On Wednesday the 23rd of December, I had to wake Sophie at 11 am in order that she may start preparing for her big debut. I made her eat a healthy breakfast before we designed the perfect hair bun and make-up for stage. We arrived at the theater a little after noon for cast call.
I dropped her off backstage, and wished her well as I gave her a proud hug. Her first show would be at 2pm, and her second at 7:30 pm. We had planned to attend the evening performance.
Sara and I finished some last minute Christmas shopping and had lunch together before we made our way home.
Then at 7pm, Doug, Sara and I made our way to the theater in our evening attire. We met up with Mia, Pappa, Melissa, and our friends Dario and Lisa…..Sophie’s fan club.
The show was outstanding! I was amazed at the talent that danced upon the stage that night.
Here are some shots of Sophie’s beautiful ballet teacher, Madeline:
Occasionally my dad would look over at me with that look of sentiment and as if he wanted to say “I remember watching you on stage”. I do remember those days, and every time I hear the Nutcracker music play, I’m transported back to the many rehearsals and performances I participated in as a young child through high school. Those were some of the best days ever. I remember auditioning for the Nutcracker and anxiously awaiting for the cast paper to be posted outside the studio. I remember the hours of fun I had with my friends during rehearsal, and those times when we would stop and watch the older dancers rehearse. It was inspiring and I dreamt of being at that point someday. I remember the excitement and thrill that filled my body as I stood in the side wing of the stage, preparing for my big entrance onto the stage in front of a silent audience. I remember the love and thrill I felt after I show, when my family and friends greeted me with flowers, and a “you did a great job”. It was magical. It was what made Christmas feel like Christmas to me. I also remember the first time I received my first Nutcracker, and dancing around my house with it, like Clara did on stage.
Sophie did a beautiful job dancing both of her parts, as an angel and as a baby mouse.
At one point when I asked her if she was nervous before going on stage, she stated, “I don’t know why mom, but I’m never nervous before I go on stage. I just go out there and dance.” She loved every second of the process. Although the many rehearsals were not always fun, the excitement of getting ready for the big show, performing in front of a sold out crowd (2,100 people), and the flowers and accoldaes she received after a successful show, made all the effort more then worth it for her. I’m so proud of your hard work, dedication and beautiful performance Sophie!