My mom and I peered through the small tinted window that opened into my younger sister’s ballet class. Skipping around, wearing a little pink tutu, my sister could not have been any cuter. But the thought that went through my mind was, “I am never going to do ballet. Ever.”
My mom told me that if I was going to watch my sister dance, why not try it too. I guess nine-year-olds aren’t very open to change.
Somehow my mom convinced me, and signed me up for my first ballet class. However, we heard that the local ballet company, Carolina Ballet, had a Nutcracker every year, and we thought it would be cool to audition just to see what it was like.
The audition was on the same day as my first ballet class, but we thought “ Why not?” and went to the audition.
My mom never thought that I, a nine year old with zero ballet experience, would ever actually get in.
I walked into the audition room, and they gave us a few steps to do. I had no idea what they were telling me to do, so I just tried my best and watched what the other girls did. The last requirement was to shuffle across the room. This shuffle step was in the Truffle’s dance, and deemed by all of the teachers, “The Truffle Shuffle.”
I came back after the audition, and surprisingly I had gotten in. I was officially in the Nutcracker, one of many young girls dancing as a Truffle.
Once accepted, there were countless lighting rehearsals, dress rehearsals and, of course, shows. My first time dancing and I was already drawn into the whirlwind of performing.
One night, while we were taking off the many layers of our costumes, we heard the stage manager rush in calling for the Truffles. We all froze, some of us in full costume, some with the last layers of the costume still on, and some only in leotards and tights.
The artistic director of our show was very angry that we were not in full costume, and the stage manager tried to explain what happened. He said that we were hot from the heavy costumes, and he thought that we were done on stage. Our artistic director said that this was not acceptable, and this should never happen again.
The episode with the artistic director was the first experience where a teacher had yelled at me, and my nine-year-old self was pretty scared.
Despite this experience, I went on to perform the “Truffle Shuffle” 11 times with Carolina Ballet. I loved the makeup, the hair, the costumes and, most importantly, the feeling when I performed on stage. I have continued to dance, and even now, right before I go on stage, I get this feeling of excitement and nervousness, but as soon as I go on stage and all the lights are shining, and the music is playing, I feel like I have been transported to another world, and I can just let it all go, all the stress, all the pent-up nerves; everything melts away in those moments on stage.
-By Leah Kallam