As a dance major, I have experienced a lot of long days, stressful weeks, and pressure in my first semester. Its been challenging physically, but even more so mentally, consistently second-guessing myself and doubting my abilities. This past week was production week for Nutcracker, which was my first full-stage production at Butler. I was exhausted and anxious the entire week, trying to keep my schedules straight, get enough sleep, eat well, and perform at my best constantly. The stress leading up to opening night was terrible, and I didn't know how I would get through the weekend.
In preparation for our first show, I experienced so much love the second I arrived at the theater. Each class within the dance department organizes a secret Santa, and we are very enthusiastic about it. As I came into the dressing room I watched all of the first and second-year dancers run around preparing surprises for their gift recipient. We were all so devoted to making each other feel special and supported before our first show. I had chocolate delivered to my dressing room as I was finishing doing my hair and the smile on everyone's faces as they received their surprise filled the theater with positive energy.
After warm-up class, I returned to the dressing room to find a present from the lead dancers from a scene in which I was in the ensemble. Some of the upperclassmen explained that every lead gives gifts to the other dancers in their scene before opening night. It was such a kind and supportive gesture, one that made all of the corps girls feel like part of a team and loved. All of the freshmen were so shocked to be brought thoughtful gifts by dancers that we looked up to and aspired to become.
By closing night, everyone had thoroughly planned their secret Santa reveal, decorated each other's makeup stations and hand-delivered gifts with sweet notes. Everyone was thrilled to get final gifts from their friends and even more excited to see the reaction of the person they were surprising. I couldn't help but feel the support putting compliments on my person's mirror and leaving her her final gift, and the love only grew when my secret Santa brought me my present and gave me a huge hug. What's more, a senior came to our dressing room to give all of the first years presents and told us how beautiful we all are and how much she loves us.
I know these things seem just like fun presents for our friends during a fun performance weekend, but it really did make all of the stress and exhaustion that much easier. The first years were all shocked by the love that went around the dance department that weekend. Leaving the last show we told each other how happy we were to be in this dance department with these people. The positive impact of some love, support, and good energy made something that was busy and challenging into something that made all of us grateful for where we are and really happy. This weekend really showed me how important it is to surround myself with loving people and to show the people around me how much I appreciate and care about them.