life in 3/4 time.

[This is the 4th year I have performed in The Nutcracker, and the second time I’ve written a letter to the two young women dancing as Clara.  {By my count, that makes it a tradition}.  Here’s a link the one from last year, and the new one below. ]

Dearest Clara,

The very first time I rehearsed the party scene with Ms. Stephanie she said to us “listen to the music, it tells us what to do”.  Her words sounded like a foreign language.  She wanted me to enter when?  Cross the stage at what point?  All I could think was: what 8-count are we on and when do I begin?

The appeal of the Nutcracker to both audience and dancers is how it mirrors the events and emotions of our own lives.  Boisterous parties, sweet dreams, first loves, chaotic fights, unexpected adventures.  But what if the soundtrack were scrambled?  What if the Chinese Dragon appeared on stage to the music of the Flowers?  Or if the Party began to the sounds of the Fight Scene?  Or Spanish were switched with Snow?  It wouldn’t make sense.  The audience couldn’t follow the story and the dancers would get disoriented, spun around, collide and step on one another’s toes.

Stephanie’s right.  And not only about dancing on the stage.

There is a loud chorus of ‘shoulds’ in our lives – an incessant drum beating, trying to tell us what to do, when to do it and in what order.  Driving us at a 4/4 march, when a 3/4 waltz is the true rhythm of time.

So as your life unfolds, listen.  Listen to the beat of your heart, the music of your mind.  It will guide you.  When it sounds dark and foreboding, proceed with caution.  When it is light and airy be complete in your joy.  When it plays a single note at a time, revel in your solitude.  There are times when it will call for wide-open spaces, and others when it craves environments as tightly packed as a regiment of soldiers.  There will be movements of travel to new and distant places, and phrases that remind you there’s no place like home.

And sometimes the music will get lost.  Overwhelmed by the cacophony of the others around you.  Find it in the call of the wind, the crashing of the waves.  Find it in the places that offer you solace.

And sometimes the music will be silent.  Take the offered rest and rejuvenate.  For the moment of its return will come, and then you will be ready to go on.

Can you hear it?

The pre-show announcement is over.  The audience is hushed.  The lights have been dimmed.  The overture has yet to begin.  It is the music.  Not of the Russian dance, or the Angels or any other part of the ballet.  It is your music.  The music of your life.

Listen again.  Can hear the music of the audience?  Each one of them is here for a different reason.  Watching a relative.  Bringing a child.  Reliving a family tradition.  Creating a new one.  Young.  Old.  Middle ground.  Tonight we are together, creating a symphony that plays underneath Tchaikovsky’s score.

Can you hear it?

It is the sound of my love.

Mama Stahlbaum

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