Dasher's Magical Gift

Dasher's Magical Gift

Every year since 2013, I've been given the amazing opportunity to perform in a CNY Arts Christmas ballet called "Dasher's Magical Gift." Kindergarteners from districts all around Syracuse come see the show on field trips to be introduced to the art of dance and theater. Trust me when I say there is no greater feeling than hearing the laughter and cheers of kids who truly enjoy seeing you do what you love. Dance has been present in my life ever since I was just four years old, but I'd never been given the chance to partake in such a large production, with audiences averaging at about 5,000 kids per show. When the show began, my classmates and I started at the bottom of the cast list. But with relentless effort throughout the years I worked my way up to the very top, performing the lead role in 2018. In the end, the show not only provided the audience with an amazing experience but also taught me countless life lessons that I have applied to my everyday life ever since then.

The months of rehearsal prior to the show are always quite unforgiving to the cast as a whole. Bringing my backpack to the dance studio became a habit, any freetime or breaks we had immediately became a study hall for the whole cast. It was difficult, but I knew what I signed up for going into it and I know that commitments are not things to be taken lightly. My schedule was busier than ever, with four-hour rehearsals everyday after school and ten-hour rehearsals on Saturdays. Nonetheless, when I look back on those times, I'm grateful that our director treated us all as if we were professional dancers, expecting just as much respect and attentiveness. It taught us to be accustomed to a certain level of expected discipline and responsibility, and even though I lost my weekends to lengthy rehearsals, I wouldn't trade those days for anything.

Being the lead in such a large-scale production for the first time in my life filled me with excitement, but it was also quite stressful in the beginning. This was one of the largest responsibilities I'd ever been tasked with, and I was excited to meet the challenge yet I still had to deal with the fear of letting the cast down. In order to combat this initial doubt I had in myself, I gave the role everything I had. Every correction my director gave me I wrote down, memorized, and fixed the next time I rehearsed. But the process of putting the show together was not without its obstacles. During one of our first rehearsals, I put too much force into a leap and broke two of my toes on impact with the floor. I knew withdrawing from the show wasn't an option as it wouldn't have been fair to the director or the rest of the cast, so I went forward with caution and endured the pain.

Happily, each and every time I got onstage to perform the lead role, I felt no stage fright whatsoever. In all my preparation, correction-taking, and going through the pain of injuries, I felt completely prepared for what was to come when I stepped out onto that stage. Confident in myself and my own abilities, I performed the role feeling proud to be in such a loving and talented cast, not afraid of the pressure I was under. The bright lights, the thousands of eyes watching my every move, none of it phased me as I went on to complete my role and perform the best show I possibly could for those little kids. When I got off the stage of the last show, I did so with the strength of overcoming my fears and being truly confident in myself and the show I was a part of.

Being a part of a production like this, one not only learns key aspects of character, but also feels the reward of doing something beneficial for their community. I'll never forget the sound of those kids cheering and clapping with joy as we did our final bows. It made all the hours of rehearsal, all the pain, and all the stress worth it without a doubt. The end of show week arrived, and with it came the realization about myself and what I am capable of. This show taught me to truly appreciate the value of a team, and how to stay professional when dealing with my responsibilities. It taught me to trust in myself, and that no matter the setback, I can persevere.