The Pointe of Working Together

October 24, 2012
The Pointe of Working Together
Tension swallowed the room as the anxious dancers prepared for the yearly audition of The Nutcracker. The whispers and the speculation of who would win which parts whirled like pirouettes throughout the lobby. Marie was hoping to be casted as Clara, the principal character. She had worked diligently for six years for the chance to play the lead role. Next year she would be too old. Marie was nervous about the new talent that was her competition this year, but confident in her abilities.
Marie, alone in her bedroom, finished packing her ballet bag for the audition. Mrs. Mallow was making her daughter a special breakfast. The smell of pancakes and bacon wafted from the kitchen up through to Marie’s room. Mrs. Mallow hoped it would give her a small confidence boost for her tryout later that morning.
Marie scanned the lobby of the National Ballet School. There was going to be fierce competition for the coveted role of Clara. Tightly tying the final ribbon of her pink slippers she rose as her name was called. Everything she had worked for as a dancer was on the line in this moment. She stepped into studio 8 for the 2010 Nutcracker audition. With her confidence level high, she danced with strength, emotion and grace through the audition pieces.
A week had elapsed since the auditions and it was the day of the promised announcement of parts. The dancers rushed into the ballet school to read the cast list on the school bulletin board. Marie walked eagerly up to the board. Her fingers scanned the list until it came to the part of Clara. Her heart sank, and she tried to hide her disappointment. There were two names for the role of Clara: hers and someone else. She faked a smile and stepped away. There had never been two Claras selected before. What could it mean? Marie didn’t even recognize the name of the other dancer selected as Clara.
Children from the ages of five to eighteen jumped around excitedly, eager for rehearsals to begin. Marie was lacking confidence in herself as a young girl approached her, “I see we both have same part this year! I’m Joslin,” she said as she grabbed Marie and gave her a hug. Marie shuddered and stammered. She was totally unprepared for the encounter.
“It appears we do,” Marie said, and she turned and walked into the rehearsal studio. Joslin bounded in behind her, talking a mile a minute, never taking a breath. She said something about being new, from Boston, and having only started Ballet four years ago. Marie was not in the mood to make a new friend, and not least one who was overshadowing her moment in the sun.

The ballet director noted Marie’s disappointment and tried to explain the rationale for two Claras namely that the ballet company thought with eight total shows, it was too much work for one Clara. Marie begged to differ, but to no avail.
Daily rehearsals were thick with tension as Marie grew increasingly bitter and Joslin had given up trying to make Marie her friend. Each tried to work harder than the other. During the weeks of practice leading up to the season premiere, Joslin and Marie would fight over every little thing.
One rehearsal Joslin and Marie were learning the final parts of the finale. The artist director told Marie that she would be doing the first show, the show for the donors of the company. With excitement, Marie told her thank you and went out of the studio. Joslin was disappointed but knew that she had plenty of shows herself and it was an honor to be Clara in the first place. They both knew that they mastered their steps in the show and were ready to begin the first of eight shows.
“Ten minutes before show time everyone please prepare for the curtain to open,” the stage manager announced. Marie was ready but was nervous to begin the show yet on performing her best. As she was going over the last of her steps she launched herself in the air causing her foot to turn below her and twisted her ankle. The tears streamed down her face as she crumpled to the ground in shock. Joslin ran up to her, “Marie are you ok?” “It looked pretty bad so I wanted to know if everything was alright.”
Marie stood up saying, “It hurts to walk, I don’t think I can do the show. So just do it for me before I change my mind.”
“Sure, don’t worry, everything will be alright and the show will go on,” Joslin replied.
The curtain rose, and the dancers showed their strengths through the two acts of the show. As the final round of applause filled the auditorium the final curtain rose and the dancers bowed. Joslin received flowers from the director and everyone cheered more.
Backstage Marie was smiling. She had been watching the whole ballet. While applause still thundered, Joslin waved Marie on stage. As she hobbled on stage, the whole audience stood up and clapped harder still because they all knew Marie had worked so hard. Joslin knew that without Marie she wouldn’t have a role model and for that she was thankful. Joslin reached out and gave Marie her bouquet. Tears welled up in Marie’s eyes as she spontaneously reached out to embrace Joslin. Finally they realized, if they only worked together, they could achieve something greater than either could accomplish by themselves.

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