Stage + Studio, A Louisville Ballet Blog: “Learning the Other Side” by Annie Honebrink

Most of ballet is fun.  Like the music and the costumes and the pink slippers.  Even the not fun parts like the sweating and sore muscles and remembering steps and corrections is fun.  Christmas was the best time of year.  And with Christmas came Nutcracker.  And with Nutcracker came performing.  But before you got to the performing part you had to go through the Audition part.  And after the audition part came the Casting part.

At age five I sat in the audience at the edge of my seat and watched four little girls scurry on the stage, around Marie, and back off, holding their fingers to their noses like whiskers.  I whispered to my Mom that I wanted to do that someday.

At age six I went to the Audition, and two weeks later I got the Casting letter—my dream came true—I would be a baby mouse in the Nutcracker.  Those fifteen seconds on stage were some of the most exhilarating moments I had ever experienced.

At age seven I developed a new dream—Party Girl.  The Audition came.  I watched the mailbox.  At last the Casting letter arrived.  And my dream would have to wait another year.

Age eight came in a blink.  The Audition.  The letter.  And I tucked the dream away for yet another year.

And another.

And another.

And I went to my classes.  And danced in my bedroom.  And practiced all the party girl steps—memorized long ago.

Age twelve.  I knew it was most likely the last year I would be able to be a party girl.  The Audition.  The letter.  Funny how something so Small—like being a party girl in the Nutcracker can feel so Big when you are twelve.  Funny how the words ‘party boy’ can feel like a blow to the stomach.  And you want to be brave, but you can’t stop the tears from coming.  And you think your world is ending because your Dream has been crushed—despite your hours of hard work, your buckets of sweat.  And so your Mama tells you that this is the Other Side.  It isn’t all hair bows and pretty music.  And if you can’t take the Other Side—if it is too much—then you need to start thinking about a new Dream—because the Other Side is only going to get harder.  And Bigger.  So you go read Junie B. Jones and your tears change to the kind that comes from laughter.  And you go to your rehearsals and smile and learn the party boy steps as fast as you can and practice them in your room.  Because every part is important.  And because the Other Side is worth it.  And so now maybe you will just need a bigger dream.  Instead of dreaming of being a party girl in the Nutcracker, you will dream of being Marie.

Because no matter what side you are on—hard work, dedication, and positive attitudes always win.

Louisville Ballet dancer Annie Honebrink has played Marie in The Brown-Forman Nutcracker for many years, including this year’s production!