All the world’s a stage, sure. But the opposite is also true. When you’re working on a stage production you end up seeing a microcosm of the real world–and by extension, you get a glimpse of the bigger picture that you might have missed.
This weekend the Maiden started rehearsing for her second ballet performance (she’s a horse in Cinderella), and all that kid-free time during the rehearsal gave me the chance to reflect. Last year’s Nutcracker performance was a dream come true for her. But strangely enough, one of the most fascinating experiences she took with her wasn’t the memory of twinkling in ballet shoes and floufy tutu across a big stage.
What made the biggest impact was what happened behind the scenes, way behind the scenes, in the gritty world of rehearsals.
The Maiden’s not a perfectionist like me. She thinks that once you have it you have it, and there’s no sense beating it to death–so rehearsals can be a bit vexing to her at times. On the other hand, they offer plenty of time for people watching.
What the Maiden lacks in personal attention to detail, she more than makes up for in observation skills. In a production in which your role’s minor, you’re going to spend a lot of time observing. And observe she did.
The Maiden came home from every practice with a wide-eyed tale of how Ms. K. got mad at some of the girls for not being up to snuff. They missed their cue! They did sloppy dancing! And they kept playing with their phones when they were supposed to be paying attention, and Ms. K. said she would take the phones away if she saw them out again! Even from the big girls!
It made a big impression.
It may come as a shocking surprise to some, but the Maiden kind of gets in trouble. A lot. She thinks that paying attention is sadly beneath her, and would much prefer to mentally explore Mars or Africa or dream up ridiculous riddles or wonder whether she can drain the river and excavate for bodies–anything rather than listen to her teacher tell her that it’s time to put away her activity or her parents tell her that dinner is on the table NOW, not tomorrow, and put on some pants, please.
Worse, from her perspective, she’s always at the bottom of the pecking order. She gets bossed by teachers and instructors. She gets bossed by Mommy and Daddy. Sure, she freely bosses her dolls and playmates to death, but that’s no fun. Ordering big people around is where it’s at.
When you’re an only child, you don’t necessarily realize that rules and discipline aren’t only something heaped upon you. Which is why the ballet experience was so valuable; it was sudden, solid proof that this isn’t just people picking on her and her alone. Other kids get in trouble when they don’t pay attention, get lazy, fool around, whatever. Just like she does.
Knowing that everyone needs correction sometimes is an incredibly important lesson. Perhaps it’s one that will encourage her to resist it a bit less in her own life. After all, messing up (and dealing with your mistakes!) is a big part of life–both on stage and off.Photo courtesy of Wish Upon a Ballet.