Every December I photograph the Ballet Arts kids who perform in the Nutcracker Ballet. Usually it’s early in the month, but this year I will be making their portraits the day after Christmas. I’m sure it thrills their families to have their children miss winter break and family gatherings as they go to rehearsals ten hours a day the week before, then perform each evening (and afternoon too on some days) for four days. For the patrons, it will be great to see the Nutcracker right at Christmas, but for the performers, the families, the stage hands and any other vendors associated with the performance, it’s not ideal! Ah, but that’s the life of a ballet dancer. Major self- discipline and sacrifice starts early in a dancer’s life.
This image was created at the Orlando Ballet School (www.orlandoballetschool.org), directed by Peter Stark, when I was there in 2006. I was in the facility to photograph the professional dancers class as they rehearsed A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but did a detour into the children’s class on the way. It was wonderful to see a room full of kids (in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages) concentrating so hard on the task at hand. Though I have never danced, I have had experience with the world of dance through a foreign exchange student from Brasil who lived with my family for a year, as well as one of my cousins, who was a professional ballet dancer. I know how much discipline it takes to conform to the rehearsal schedules, the exercise regimens and the rigorously strict diets. It can take a serious toll on the physique and the psyche. In my cousin’s case, it ruined her. In my Brasilian brother’s case, it was what allowed him to fly. Once he finished his senior year in high school in the United States and returned to Brasil, he (Armando Aurich) joined a professional company and danced all over the world in the 1980’s and 1990’s with, among others, Bale da Cidade de Sao Paulo; the Sao Paulo City Ballet Company, and has transitioned into a successful career as a director & choreographer now that he is in his mid-40’s. That success only came because of his intense dedication to the art form starting in his childhood. So, kudos to the children who sacrifice their free time in the pursuit of perfecting their art!
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