Confessions of a ballerina

Danceworks’ annual Christmas show brings back memories of dancing in Sandpoint

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

Before the stage lights come up and the music begins, there is a certain electricity in the dark air of a packed theater.

The electricity, in my experience, was made of a mixture of horrible nerves and giddy anticipation. The sounds of people shifting in their seats and parents shushing their rowdy toddlers are layered in my memories with the smell of popcorn and the feeling of tulle in my fingertips. The slight unevenness of the Panida stage under my ballet shoes grounded me, and the gentle rustling of my fellow dancers let me know I wasn’t alone in the darkness.

The author in her dance days. Courtesy photo.

Then the lights would render us temporarily blind, the music would arrive loud and familiar through the theater’s sound system, and, suddenly, it was showtime.

I performed ballet in two annual productions for Sandpoint studio Danceworks from around 7 years old until high school, when I had to choose between dance class and sports. The studio is still going strong under the direction of owner and teacher Becky Lucas, and is slated to host its annual Christmas show on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. at the Panida Theater. 

I’ll be there, sitting on the opposite side of that electric darkness and cheering for my niece — as well as the dozens of other dancers from preschool-aged to teen who are brave enough to take the stage.

It’s hard to overstate what dance did for my confidence as a young person. For one, it offered routine and discipline like nothing else in my life. The movements were equal parts expression and athleticism. There was also an element of teamwork, especially as each performance came closer. 

Our ballet teacher, Debi, held us each to a high standard while still emphasizing our individual strengths with her choreography. It was hard, demanding work. We were ballerinas, and we were strong because of it.

Dance offered a perfect combination of brutality and beauty, especially once I’d graduated to pointe shoes. Our hair taut in neat buns and our leotard straps perfectly placed, we walked onto the stage of each show with a sense of power — or, at least I did. 

Looking back on the bond I was able to form with my classmates, I like to think they felt it, too. We trusted one another and trusted that we’d dedicated enough time and energy to that particular performance. I’ve never watched footage of any of those shows, and I’m not sure I want to. In my memory, we executed perfection, and the crowd went wild.

I may have stopped dancing, but never lost the lessons that ballet taught me about self-discipline and self-confidence. Now, I get to see young people in our community continue to benefit from dance lessons and the grand performances that bookend the long hours of learning. I am so proud of my niece, and proud to have been a Danceworks kid myself. 

May the show go on.

Danceworks Christmas • Saturday, Dec. 17; doors at 2:30 p.m., show at 3 p.m.; $15. Panida Theater, 300 N. First Ave., 208-263-9191, Get tickets at the Danceworks Studio (409 N. Fourth Ave.) or at the door the day of the show.

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