Ballet Austin School Shows
By Pei-San Brown, Director of Community Education

The buzz of young children fills the theater as they bounce and giggle with excitement. For many, this will be their first and last chance to see a live ballet production, and that thought alone humbles me. It helps me see what I sometimes take for granted. Dance is my life, and watching ballet is part of my job. It has been so long since the first time I saw ballet performed onstage that it’s good to be reminded of everything this particular experience encompasses for these students.

Arriving at the theater is a logistical challenge in itself. Imagine approximately 50 buses per show pulling onto the street in front of the theater, and 2,200 students and teachers then streaming from those buses towards the theater entrance, all within a half-hour’s time. The massive crowd is then divided into five different color groups – red, blue, green, purple, and orange. Each color is assigned to different seating areas in the theater. Volunteers help lead the schools to their assigned seats, which sometimes requires them to climb up and down two or three flights of stairs sometimes up to 10 times a day.

When the schools are seated the performance begins. The students make great audience members – they seem to clap every time a dancer leaps or turns. It reminds us that what the dancers do onstage is truly magical. After the show, we reverse the process, and schools are allowed to exit as their buses arrive to pick them up. At the same time, another group of 2,200 students and teachers are arriving in 50 more buses. All in a day’s work becomes a truly inspirational experience.

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