Isabel is one of two teens at the Alameda Ballet Academy who will be dancing the role of Clara in the Alameda Civic Ballet's annual presentation of The Nutcracker. She is blogging about what it is like to play the part — for the second year running.
After a year, Clara and I have come to an understanding. In many ways, we are very much alike. For instance, both of us dream of finding a prince charming. It can't hurt if he defends us from an evil mouse king on the first date, or takes us to his magical kingdom made entirely out of sugary delights.
We both seek adventure. In a world where we are expected to grow up, we return to our imaginations and say to our friends "let's pretend..."
Some may argue that Clara's story is unrealistic, that she is a girl who snuck some of her parent's champagne or indulged in a few too many gumdrops. But, to my view, Clara is simply a dreamer: a young girl who spends her Christmas Eve hoping that the handsome doll she receives from her uncle will transform into the man of her dreams ... or that for one night she could escape from the limiting society binding her in like a corset to high expectations and arranged marriages.
This week, ballet classes and Nutcracker rehearsals were put on pause as America indulged in large amounts of turkey and pie. I took to Jazzercise for the first time ever, since my restless legs can't stand relaxing for long periods of time.
Every morning, I woke up at 7:30 a.m. (early for a teenager, or perhaps any human being, on break). My dad told me I might as well move into the studio, considering I spend more time there than I do at home. My friends judged me, in the most loving way possible, for taking eight Jazzercise classes this past week — and even my fellow Jazzercisers wondered if I was required to take so many classes.
On Black Friday, rather than battling our way through the mall, six of us dancers were summoned to the studio, once again. The ballerina doll, toy soldier, Spanish queen, Chinese empress, Clara, two little Russians, and myself (dressed as a turquoise bon bon, although I felt more like a fugly cupcake) all performed solos at South Shore to an audience of enchanted children and smiling adults.
The stage was put up just hours before and creaked ominously as each of us bounded across it. Afterwards, we felt like characters at Disneyland, kids came up to us and ask to have their picture taken. It was a pleasant change from the years before when we had consistently been rained out.
It seems strange not having seen most of my ballet classmates for a week considering we usually see each other every day. When we return to classes, "I haven't seen you in forever!" was exchanged as we tied up the ribbons on our pointe shoes.
This weekend, I thought to myself "this is the last rehearsal-free Saturday night I will have until Christmas Eve," and then, "this is what Sundays without dancing obligations feels like!"