The Side of Ballet We Don’t Get to See

I love live performances. Whether we’re talking bands, Shakespeare in the Park, Broadway shows, or my younger cousin’s talent show, I live for these productions. One performance venue I find myself returning to every few months is the esteemed Nashville Ballet. Over the years I’ve had the privilege to attend The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake by this world-renowned company.

I was thrilled when I learned that the Nashville Ballet was debuting a new ballet, and were hosting free open rehearsals to the public. I jumped at the opportunity.

Having been an avid Dance Moms fan for several years, I loved the idea of getting to see the unfinished, raw material before it would be perfected and honed for the debut performances.

The experience did not disappoint.

There was something so humbling about seeing the ballet dancers (who I normally saw in elaborate and bejeweled costumes) in cargo leggings, joggers, yoga pants, cutoffs, and messy, rather than perfectly manicured, buns. It was equally humbling to watch professionals stumble through and mess up steps as the choreographer, Paul Vasterling, coached them through various numbers. It became immediately apparent that even world class performers sometimes struggle with things, and the beauty and grace that most people see is not accomplished without hours of hard work.

For me, the experience was such a powerful reminder about the iceberg effect of people's success. We normally see other’s amazing accomplishments, rewards, and accolades. Especially now, as I wade through my last semester of college, incredible internships, job opportunities, and research positions seem to be everywhere I look among my friends and classmates. It can be overwhelming and discouraging seeing so much success around you. Yet, I try to remind myself that we rarely see the grueling work needed to achieve such things, or the part of the iceberg that is submerged.

This was a timely reminder, and an experience I doubt I’ll be able to forget. The next time I attend the ballet and watch the dancers put on a spectacle that will appear to be effortless elegance set to music, I’ll remember the uncertain steps and messy buns.