A few months ago I rehearsed for and danced in a ballet.
My friend’s daughter has been involved in ballet for a long time. For the past few years his wife has asked me if I wanted to be in the ballet as there is a perennial shortage of males for the ballet.
I’d vaguely considered it as my sister had been in ballet when I was in high school and I knew that male ballet dancers were at the very least STRONG. I told my friend on a dare that if he was in a ballet then I would join him in the very next ballet production. Well, my friend had the gumption to do it, and so I came through with my promise.
There is something about men dancing in a ballet that strikes the common person (male and female alike) as rather sissy-ish. But after some experience I can tell you that a male ballet dancer must be strong and dedicated, must have a strong sense of self, and must be daring.
After beginning ballet rehearsal I was asked if I knew any other men who would be interested in joining us in the ballet. I thought for a moment and I could not.
Such a person would have to reliably attend ballet rehearsal twice a week for two months. He would also have to be in decent physical condition. He would also have to be confident of his manhood so that he could deflect any sissy accusations that might come his way. And he would have to not be a pervert due to the numerous young women in the ballet company.
Being a part of the production starting with rehearsals was a fascinating experience for me! I have never been involved in theater or any type of formal dancing (though I like to dance). What seemed like a disjointed series of rehearsals that would perhaps never come to fruition eventually evolved into a fine display of teamwork and grace.
We were initially exposed to the most difficult dance moves. As the weeks progressed the rest of the ballet was revealed to us. In this case, the bulk of my time spent on stage was in non-dancing mode. So I was asked to emote and respond to the other members of the company. Over time the company became more comfortable with each other and each piece of the ballet became ingrained in our minds.
The final week before opening night, we moved the dance floor from the studio to the theater. It was a drastic change to be rehearsing in the theater! The stage that seemed cavernous from the audience was much smaller than the space we were accustomed to in the studio without the stage props. After an evening of bumping into each other, we adjusted.
By opening night the energy level in the company was through the roof! It wasn’t anxiety so much as it was wanting to do it right for the company and for the crowd. So, though I could sense the people in the audience, they added energy rather than distraction.
By the end of our last show I felt a wonderful sense of camaraderie with everyone in the company.
But in this case it was unique for me because before ballet rehearsal began, I only knew my friend and his daughter. I hadn’t even encountered these people before. And after the ballet it was the same, as if everyone came out of the woods to join together and perform, then disappeared back into the woods. And so it remains a kind of magical memory for me, this strange world of ballet dancing.
I hope to join the company again in the future.