by Company dancer Valerie Harmon
April 23, 2010
With only three weeks left until opening night of Peter Pan, I can definitely say that this has been the most fast-paced rehearsal process I’ve ever been a part of. And of course one of the most fun! How many people get to go to work every day and fly, have pillow fights and play on a giant pirate ship?
All of the fun doesn’t go without a challenge however. As one of the dancers portraying Wendy Darling I’ve had a lot to learn. This is the first role I have danced that requires so much storytelling and really exploring a specific character. I would never have imagined that there could be aspects of a ballet that are actually harder than the steps. After all, as dancers we are trained primarily to perfect steps and know how to execute choreography well. When we have to explore so much acting and character development using only our bodies to tell the story it takes a different type of focus and energy. Not to mention you have to be precisely on the music all the while!
Another struggle is making all of that characterization less like acting and more like genuinely behaving as the character would. Part of this is learning how to really work with the props and scenery to their full advantage. Fortunately, the Company I work with is also fantastic at giving 100% all the time. This helps you build the story and quickly learn what works and what doesn’t.
As far as the specific role of Wendy is concerned, I have truly enjoyed trying to embody the role. In reading the book before we began rehearsing, I was so excited to find so many similarities between Wendy and myself. It’s exciting to be a girl who has a vivid imagination, is a caring older sister, has a sense of adventure, and at the same time looks forward to growing up.
We still have quite a bit of work to do before performances begin, but I look forward to this being an incredible show to perform. With the lighting, orchestra, costumes and magic, I can’t wait to see how this comes to life!
Milwaukee Ballet Company Dancer