The curtain opens revealing dancers, smiles on their faces and a sense of calm and composure. Little does the audience know that seconds before the red fabric was pulled there were deep breaths, shaking voices, and sweating hands. Calming and loving words were spoken, while everyone was trying to provide some final words of encouragement.
Friday, December 6th was opening night for the 2019 Children’s Nutcracker. Forty-eight high-schoolers and forty-two elementary students gathered to put on this year’s production. There were many rehearsals to perfect the choreography for each dance. The goal was to perform to the best of each dancer’s ability and put on four great shows. The day of the show’s premiere there were still adjustments being made. Dances were being run through, steps fixed, makeup applied, and hair done all before the show at 7 p.m..
After the Party Scene that involved every dancer, costume changes loomed over the heads of all. Some were relying on two to three people to help them change into the next dance’s costume. Leotards, tights, shoes, headpieces, and accessories were replaced with others. Minutes were all that were given to some, causing stress to fester. Izzy Melim describes her quick change experiences this year as “nerve racking trying to make sure I’ll be ready in time but once the different pieces start coming together it becomes more fun and I’ve been able to connect with the people that help me through the quick change”. Emma Strong was one of those people who helped with quick changes. She said “Helping people change was one of my favorite experiences. I loved it because even though I couldn’t be on the stage at that time I knew that I helped the show because I got that person on the stage”.
Hair spray looms in the air constantly as lipstick is being passed around. Everyone stays silent or whispers to one another, trying to not distract those who are stressed and changing quickly. People do not even ask for help to change, everyone just knows when help is needed.
Away from the performances on the stage, a real community has formed. The Movement and Dance Company is the school’s company for the performers here at GHS who have signed up for the class. MoDaCo is a concert dance project based off a college level model that involves technique classes and performances. Each member of MoDaCo feels as though they have a family within the company. Izzy describes MoDaCo as one of the few places that she feels comfortable enough to show all parts of her true self, “It does not matter who can get their foot the highest or who has the best turnout, it’s all about character and what you bring to the group”.
The 2019 Nutcracker was the first performance for some. Emma Strong was one of the few seniors that decided they wanted to join a school production for the first time. “I chose to do the Nutcracker this year because I thought it would be an experience that I wouldn’t get another chance to do” says Emma. Close relationships were easy to form even for those that were not as experienced in MoDaCo. “I’ve made so many good friends through the Nutcracker and we all became a family. People I used to walk by and not think anything of have now become some of my good friends,” admits Emma.