I am a rehearsal mistress for Provo Civic Ballet's "Nutcracker". (I can't say that without my non-dance friends making rather dirty jokes. And they're never that funny, honestly.) I enjoy the role, but it's not easy for me. This is only my second year, so I am still training my eye to take in the whole group. In case you, too, are new to running a rehearsal for choreography you didn't create, here are some things I've learned:
- fix the spacing immediately. Don't wait until you have everything learned--fix it right now.
- there is no such thing as being too familiar with the choreography. Some of the hardest hours of my career have been when I was pulled in last-minute to rehearse/clean something I'd never seen before.
- when rehearsing young dancers, remember that they are learning how to learn choreography. It's a whole new ballgame for them so be patient. Lie if you must.
- I try to alternate which cast I start with each week. Otherwise cast A gets the lion's share of attention and they end up looking much better. This doesn't seem fair to the equally hard-working other cast(s).
- You will get better at this. Just like learning to dance or learning to teach, you can learn how to rehearse. Learn from your mistakes but don't beat yourself up about them or make them part of your identity.
I am lucky to work for an artistic director who, if asked, will give genuinely constructive criticism. She worked with me last year on some elements that I had overlooked and this year is already going so much better. Tonight was our first buffoon rehearsal and it was so good! I am practically giddy.
Of course, I can't take all the credit. All 21 of those dancers (who are all eight and nine years old) brought their A-game. I am so proud of all of them!