Getting the Part: A Ballet Mom’s Pointe of View
by Jennee Warner
Our tiny little dancer learned to plié not long after she learned to walk. As a baby she danced everywhere. She watched Barbie ballet videos on her tiptoes for what seemed like hours at a time. We placed her in a ballet class at three years of age and she’s been in love ever since. She loves every aspect of dance. From the grand performances and all that surround them, down to the sound the point shoes make when they hit the stage floor, she loves it all.
A couple of months ago she learned about the possibility of the title role of LCCB’s Drummer boy being cast from her age group. Our daughter knew immediately she wanted that role. She made the commitment to not miss a single class, and to work extremely hard to prove herself worthy. The girls in class were given a few steps to learn and practice, with the goal of auditioning for the role of the Drummer Boy. She practiced those dance steps everywhere for several weeks. If she was moving she was dancing. Not only did she dance nonstop, but she talked about the possibility of being the Drummer Boy even more. It was hard as a parent to watch her be so excited at the possibility, and then try to pull her back down to earth and remind her she was up against a large group of girls for the same part. No doubt these girls also made the same commitment that she did. I wanted it for her just as much as she did but was afraid of the disappointment she might be facing.
Madilyn went to sleep on Tuesday night after auditioning, knowing they were going to make the announcement on Thursday. The last thing she said before bed was, “I can’t wait for Thursday.” It was also the first thing she said Wednesday morning when she opened her eyes.
Unbeknownst to her, Wednesday morning while she was in school I got a phone call from Lady Holly offering her one of the rolls of the Drummer Boy. After discussing the commitment, the schedule and the time constraints, I happily accepted on her behalf. It was all I could do to not drive up to school, pull her out of class and tell her!
We found a fun way to tell her and honestly, she’s never been more excited about anything else in her 9 1/2 years of life. We went straight to dance from school after telling her. That first rehearsal was nothing to write home about. Fear of the unknown, nerves, teenagers she didn’t know, and a long day created the perfect storm for a less than great rehearsal. She left nervous and doubtful that she had the ability to do this. After a pep talk and a good night sleep, the second rehearsal was much better. I know Lady Holly, as well as her father, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
We go straight from school to the studio about 3 days during the week, and some days we stay past dinner time and she does her homework while she’s taking a break. She has given up a couple of Saturdays and Sundays also. She has not complained about this arrangement one time. She excitedly asks me about rehearsals every day when I pick her up from school. On the days she doesn’t rehearse at the studio, she turns on the audio for Drummer Boy and runs through the entire performance multiple times. Her father and I have never seen her devote so much of herself to anything before. We have watched her go from stumbling on the lines and not knowing the choreography to what we see today. I’m in the studio lobby alone, listening to them rehearse. There is such a difference in what I see and hear today versus what I saw and heard two short weeks ago. The time and work they are putting in astounds us. The hours of extra rehearsals, both at home and in the studio have definitely paid off.
We weren’t sure how a nine-year-old would be able to handle such a huge responsibility, but our daughter has handled it with more dedication and commitment than we could’ve ever imagined. She has seen for herself exactly what her hard work has done. Starting with making the decision that she wanted the role, and now seeing just how much better she has gotten and all that she has learned is truly amazing. She still has to work on perfecting the role. It’s not just dancing. It’s dancing with the drum and drumsticks, dancing with dancers of all ages, being able to act in sync with the narrated lines, making sure her expressions are correct and visible to the audience, and doing it all for the enjoyment of everyone in the audience. Of course she is excited about all that comes with being the drummer boy, but most of all she’s excited to be able to bring smiles to so many faces, especially the school children on field trips. She is absolutely thriving in the excitement and challenge and is extremely grateful for the opportunity she has been given. It’s something none of us will ever forget!
The Little Drummer Boy – Saturday, December 13, 11:00 am and 6:00 pm at the Lake Charles Civic Center Rosa Hart Theatre. Purchase tickets: www.lakecharlescivicballet.com
Photos by: Danley Romero, Romero&Romero Photography