Whether it's a wardrobe malfunction or a spectacular, opera-house–sized fail, onstage mistakes happen to everybody. See how these four professionals survived their worst mishaps—and what they took away from them.
Brothers and Rafael Ferreras in Trey McIntyre's The Reassuring Effects (of Form and Poetry). Photo by Louis Tucker, courtesy of Ballet Memphis
Ballet Memphis veteran Crystal Brothers had performed the Glinda variation in Steven McMahon's Wizard of Oz several times in her career. But during the most recent run, McMahon slightly altered the steps—two days before the performance. "It was already ingrained in my body, so when we changed it, I was determined to remember it," says Brothers. "I went over it so many times that I forgot it onstage." All she could do was improvise. "I just kept running around doing some passé relevés, flickin' my wrist, trying to hit a ping. An accent here, accent there."
Brothers got away with it. "All my ballet mistress had to say was, 'Oh, it looked like you had a funny smile on your face.' " The audience was none the wiser.
The Lesson: Occasional memory malfunctions are inevitable. "Just don't freeze," says Brothers. "Even though you feel like a deer in headlights and you just want to go crawl under a rock and die, make something up. Sparkle, sparkle. Hit an accent." With musicality and a smile, you might escape the audience's (and even your ballet mistress') scrutiny.