The pros make it look easy. I’ve never noticed how challenging the "Waltz of the Flowers" was, until I watched the advanced girls at Ballet Academy East perform that stamina-testing Balanchine work in their 2012 Studio Showing. Maybe it’s because my eyes start to glaze over by the time "Waltz" hits in Act II, or it’s because the piece is so long that I (admittedly) fade out, or it’s because the NYCB dancers do it so effortlessly that I stop caring. But that was certainly not the case last night. It’s not to say the dancers made it look hard—the students performed it terrifically. It was their drive—a want to nail it perfectly—that was so captivating and refreshing; I was hooked the whole time.
But that piece is certainly no cakewalk. Not only does it last forever, the girls weave in and out of each other creating new formations, lines and pathways constantly. After one particularly challenging transition, directors Julia Dubno and Darla Hoover (who were sitting behind me) whispered a resounding “Yes!” It was great to hear that something the students must have been struggling with in rehearsals worked out in performance.
As a teacher, I get extremely nervous a few weeks before shows. I can feel my moods switch in rehearsal—usually for the worst. Why can’t my kids just remember to do X, Y and Z? Last night’s performance reminded me to calm down. Students, who produce beautiful work on stage, may have not been absolutely perfect in rehearsal—and maybe for the better. The difference between students and pros is consistency. Sure, a pro will always a nail triple pirouette—that’s what makes her a pro. But there’s something way more exciting in watching a student (who may only do it correctly half the time) get it right and appreciate it that much more.