The 12 shows of Nutcracker

Downtown Ventura, CA
I returned home from my final Nutcracker gig in Los Angeles at about 7 AM Saturday morning. I spent nearly 6 weeks away from home, performed in countless shows, had a handful of great and horrible experiences, and flew on a final red eye flight that I was not too pleased about. Yesterday, I walked safely into my apartment, all in one piece. As I sat in the aisle seat of my plane next to a seatmate that couldn't find a comfortable sleep position for nearly 5 hours, I began to evaluate my Nutcracker-ing and determined a few things. Professional gigs trump school gigs. There's no place like home, or the home studio where a dancer was raised. I will never go back to West Virginia. Always get your housing situation written into a contract. If you aren't comfortable in your accommodations say something. Also, always require approval prior to having flights/accommodations booked. Lastly, be clear about your availability and requirements for shows. School's typically don't understand (or think of) that a dancer doesn't need two dress rehearsals, to be present at the theatre 2 hours prior to a performance, or access to healthy and affordable food options. To sum up my last 6 weeks, I wrote a short little list of my 12 shows of Nutcracker while trying to woo myself to sleep on that damn red eye flight. Enjoy and Happy New Year!!!!

12 - Shows of Nutcracker - 3 in each city (Rochester, NY; Huntington, WV; Immaculata, PA, Ventura, CA)
Flying into Los Angeles

11 -The average time that I woke up every morning for rehearsals or shows

10 - Different beds I slept in (3 friends, 2 hotels, 2 family members, 1 host family, 1 motel, my own)

9 - The earliest school performance I have ever had to perform in

8 - Flights around the country (if you count my flight out of WV that I boarded, but was cancelled on the tarmac due to a failed engine, this could have been #9)

7 - The number of times I was asked "How long is a dancer's career?"

Frightening WV McDonald's - 40 piece nuggets
6 - The amount of fast food receipts I accrued at airports and in West Virginia

5 - Different partners (this would have been 4 had #1 not happened)

4 - Different versions of the the grand pas de deux over 4 weekends (My brain almost exploded)

3 - Mishaps that were avoided by big smiles and great professionalism - On my opening with Rochester City Ballet, the orchestra fumbled the first 16 counts of the pas de deux. My partner and I gave the orchestra no choice, but to catch up to us. It sounded like they were going to stop and start over. I also had the back of my costume explode open at the beginning of the pas de deux, which couldn't be fixed until the end of my variation. Lastly, the stage in West Virginia was so slippery that I couldn't perform any of the dancing on releve or walk faster than a slow trod to avoid falling.
Cigarette burns on motel comforter

2 - Times that I had to reject accommodations after the agreed host families didn't follow through (also of note: using a motel is not an appropriate way to treat a guest artist, especially when there are reviews online speaking of prostitution and drug trade)

1 - Emergency performance of the Snow pas de deux where I learned the choreography an hour prior to the show (due to a performance that was moved because of snowy weather and a guest artist that had another show at the new performance time)

Bonus:  Carson Kressley from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Dancing with the Stars came to a performance at Chester Valley Dance Academy's show. 
Me and Carson after the show

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