Some memories are so poignant that you’re able to recall specific details of the situation long after the event has passed. This series highlights the truly memorable moments of our writers' lives, those that have stuck with them for days, months and years and now take shape as stories on the page.
It was August 2015.
I was in the middle of geometry class. I turned on my iPod touch, and I went to the cast list website to see if there were any updates.
I looked at the top line of the list where I saw the role, “Clara.” I scanned my eyes across the page and I saw my name, “Lily Freiberg,” on the same line.
My heart started pounding as I took a screenshot of the page.
I was going to be Clara, the lead role, in Cincinnati Ballet’s “Frisch’s Presents The Nutcracker.”
It took me six years of auditioning and performing various roles, but my dream of being Clara was finally coming true. All of the hard work and determination had paid off.
I told my friend sitting next to me in geometry class. Then, I apologized to my geometry teacher for freaking out in the middle of class. Later, I texted my dad the news and I told my best friend in school. When I told my mom later that day in the car, she cried.
Rehearsals were fun, but I underestimated the amount of work and time commitment it would take.
Clara was in every single scene, so I never left the stage. Clara sits and reacts to dances for the whole second act, so I still had to be in act two rehearsals and practice my reactions.
My first performance was exhilarating. I remember performing alongside my best friend and hugging the dancer who played the Nutcracker Prince when the curtain came down.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
The first dress I wore, the party dress, was a tight, bright pink corset where the hoop skirt made it puff out a lot. My nightgown dress was a lot looser and it really felt like a nightgown.
My favorite part of the set was the growing Christmas tree, whose lights flickered along with the cheerful music.
I only got to be in five shows, but those five shows were special.
I got to perform in a show, called the “gentle matinee,” where the audience members had medical conditions, so the loud sound effects were muted and the house lights were kept at half.
I was also chosen to participate in the Sugar Plum Parade. This is when the younger children in the audience come onstage after the show and meet the dancers who played their favorite roles.
My favorite show to perform in was closing night because it’s known as a “give it your all” performance.
It’s the last performance of the year. There are no notes or things to improve on after the show.
It’s the performance where dancers try to jump higher, turn more and do everything they possibly can to make the show the best show they’ve had.
At the end of the last performance, when Clara waved goodbye to everyone from the hot air balloon, I teared up a bit. I didn’t want it to end.
Taking that final bow and watching the curtain go down for the last time was relieving but heartbreaking.
And just like Clara realizes the Land of Sweets fantasy was all a dream, still to this day, I feel like performing as Clara was a dream come true.