Lately, I have been having old memories frequently stir up in my mind. This is one of my fondest. It is the story of how I came to be offered the first and last job that I ever accepted from a professional ballet company.
When I was a senior in high school, NCSA began doing an interesting thing. Around the time of audition season, they invited a few Artistic Directors from various companies to watch us take classes, and participate in a question and answer session with the students. After our morning class, we were prodded to visit with the directors. Most of us were fairly shy, and I can say for myself that I had no idea the weight this opportunity held for us if we took the chance to come out of our shells for a moment.
After class, a gentleman introduced himself to me as the director of the then "State Ballet of Missouri." He was complimentary of my work and asked me what my plans were for the following year. In those days, I had my sights set on one thing and one thing only-I was to attend the School of American Ballet for their summer program. I told him this and expressed that I was hoping to be asked to stay for the following year. To this he graciously gave me his best wishes, and that was the extent of our conversation.
In my time as a dancer, I recall one class where I felt I danced the best I've ever danced. That was the men's technique class that we had later that afternoon. This director was watching again, and I felt great. I could turn, I could jump-it was my best class to date, or so it will always feel in my mind. After class, when we were all changing in the locker room, a classmate of mine-said to another, "He offered you a job?!?" I quickly asked, "What did he say to you?" He replied, "He just asked me what my plans were for next year, and I just said 'I need a job!'" I froze. It was over. I had missed the boat. All I could think was that I had missed my chance at my first job.
I did attend SAB, but was not asked to stay on for the year. As fortune would have it, I attended the Rock School in Philadelphia where I had numerous opportunities to perform both within the school and with the Pennsylvania Ballet. This also put me in close proximity to New York for auditions.
When audition season rolled around again, I was in and out of the city almost every weekend. Not much was opening up for me, and I was beginning to feel nervous. One day, I was at SAB auditioning for the Miami City Ballet when I asked a co-auditioner/friend how auditions had been going for her. She said that Kansas City Ballet(as it was then called) was looking promising, but that she was nervous because the director was there at the Miami audition.
I didn't miss a beat. I walked up to him and reintroduced myself. To my surprise and delight, he remembered me from the year before. Then, he asked me what my plans were for next year. You can guess what my response was this time! The rest, as they say is history.
I am so thankful that I was given a second chance. I know that this doesn't happen often in life, but the existence of second chances makes me believe that if I open myself up, good things can be allowed to happen for me. Now, I am a realist and have no stars in my eyes. I have always been a pragmatist and ever willing to put in the work to hopefully earn what I desire. That said, I feel it is better to attempt walking through life with an open mind and find out that the answer may be a "No" than to close off and be scared of taking risks. I've always said that the answer will always be "No" if I don't ask the question. I might as well take the risk that it could be "Yes."
In this time in my life, the answered happened to be "Yes," and oh what a "Yes" it has been.