I have often been asked, “Do you regret going to college rather than pursuing a professional dance career?” My answer has always been an unwavering, “No.” I never doubted that I made the right decision to attend Princeton University right out of high school. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. I did, however, have one regret as a result of my decision. I was never able to perform George Balanchine’s Serenade.
The first time I saw Miami City Ballet perform Serenade as a young girl, I fell in love. I remember gasping in awe when the curtain rose to reveal 17 ballerinas in blue full-length tutus standing in that iconic opening pose.
As a student at Miami City Ballet School, I was blessed to perform many of Balanchine’s ballets over the years – La Source, Divertimento No. 15, Concerto Barocco and Who Cares? among others. But never Serenade. Every time I watched the company perform it I imagined what it would feel like to stand with my pointe shoes together and arm outstretched to Tchaikovsky’s incredible score.
When I made the decision to go to Princeton rather than join the company, I realized I might be giving up my chance to ever experience that feeling. But I refused to give up on my dream completely. I remember college study breaks I spent on Google searching for glimpses of Balanchine’s elusive choreography. Easier said than done thanks to the Balanchine Trust.
After college, I joined the Joffrey Ballet Concert Group in New York City and was introduced to a different kind of American dance legacy through the choreography of Gerald Arpino. I did not see Balanchine in the near future of our repertoire. However, in a fortunate twist of fate, Stacy Caddell was hired as our Principal Ballet Mistress in 2014. Stacy is a former dancer with New York City Ballet and Twyla Tharp as well as a member of the Balanchine Trust. This fall, less than a year after her arrival, she helped the company procure the rights to Serenade.
Just the first rehearsal was an ineffable experience for me. Stacy said, “Serenade is like a religion.” And I knew exactly what she meant. But nothing will compare to the moment my childhood dream finally came to fruition less than two weeks ago in the beautiful state-of-the-art theatre at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida. The curtain rose and I was one of the 17 ballerinas in a blue full-length tutu looking toward my arm outstretched.