Backstage in Chelmsford with Tom!

In this special blog entry, our dancer Tom Broderick tells us about Ballet Central’s performance in Chelmsford!

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Chelmsford, to me was always going to be the most important show, purely due to the fact it is the nearest to my home town of Southend-On-Sea. With over forty people coming to support me, many of which hadn’t seen me dance since I first moved to London to attend Central three years ago, the pressure was certainly on. For the first time I was dancing the Prince in the Cinderella Pas de Deux, as well as appearing in Mapping #3, Insinuare & anon. These had all gone well in rehearsal, so on Wednesday night, in apprehension of the 5.45 am wake-up call, I tried to ignore the multitude of mixed feelings  whirring around my mind and get some sleep.

I certainly hadn’t been wrong. When my alarm rang through my ears at that ungodly hour it took a lot of self control to not simply roll over and ignore it, but by the time I got to school and was on the coach I began to feel a little more alive. The journey wasn’t long and the ‘Welcome to Essex’ sign did seem to drum up some excitement in me and the three others who originate from our palatial county, so once the extra shots of coffee had kicked in we were ready for the get in. Here lay our first problem.

One part of Ballet Central, is not only do we perform at each venue, but also partake in a team whereby we aid the setup and get out of the show. This helps broaden our knowledge of the theatre. I am on the wardrobe team which means, simply, that we look after all the costumes, unpack and prepare them for each show. In practicality this often proves more problematic than expected, with small items such as cufflinks and earrings disappearing constantly. At Chelmsford however the costumes decided to step up their game in the disappearing  act, with a pair of bespoke footballers boots going missing, with no suitable spare. This meant a mere pair of shoes caused seven frantic teenagers to scramble through trunks, bags and boxes, whilst still attempting to steam and iron the hundreds of other items. Did I mention by this point it’s only 9.30 am? The dramas of a touring ballet company!

After what seemed like hours of standing behind a steamer, de-creasing costumes and hanging them on their assigned rails we were finally done. A quick trip to a coffee shop later for more caffeine, a miraculous change of attire and there we were on stage doing class. The hour and a half for me, whizzed by. This was the point where the nerves were starting to creep in, not helped by the steady stream of bleeps coming from my phone. Various tweets, texts and emails flooding in from friends along the lines of “Can’t wait to see it tonight! Better be good!?”… No pressure eh??

So class finished and it was onto a run through. As each new venue is different with varying stage and wing sizes, an afternoon run through is always a necessity to iron out any creases in the running of the show before the evening performance. Believe me there are normally a few. This run went fairly well, for me at least, with only a few notes such as spacing for the Pas de Deux so that we finished in our allotted spot light. The main issue was just that the wings were a lot smaller than previous venues, but with some close packed quick changes and slight adjustment of curtains we managed.

There we go, preparation finished. The time had reached 5.45pm, we as a company had been going for twelve hours and sustenance was in order. Consequently with my parents arrival I was soon in the nearest pub for a scoffed dinner. Maybe it wasn’t sensible to go for the large fish and chips before a show, then again dancing has never stopped my food consumption before! The joys of a fast metabolism!

Back at the theatre again, gosh this day seems to be never ending and we haven’t even got to the show yet! I forgot to mention earlier that I am the one member of the company shall we say lucky enough to be on two of the theatre teams so once back in the theatre I proceeded to grab the front of house case and set up our merchandise stall before the rest of the team joined me. Somehow I didn’t actually get much selling done, mainly due to the crowd of friends and relatives now piling into the foyer. I was stuck in an almost constant embrace, going from one to the next for almost ten minutes and by that time the half hour warning had been called so in the blink of an eye my makeup and costume were on, I was warmed up and standing in the wings watching the first piece finish and seriously considering running away right there and then.

I managed to stick it out and myself and Giulia performed our debut of the Cinderella Fireside Pas de Deux. The five and a half minutes were over in a heartbeat and as we took our bow the roar from my friends and family was simply amazing. Pure elation is the only way I can really describe how I felt when I came off. As we saw Heidi shedding a tear as we left the stage all we wanted to do was bounce up and down like hyperactive six year olds, but I only had one more piece until I was on again so it was of to get changed. The rest of the show continued in the same way, with everything going perfectly and by the time I finished anon, I was both shattered and extremely happy. The fairy god mother must have been watching over me as well as Cinderella because it really couldn’t have gone any better.

Now it was time to do the whole process in reverse. Back into the foyer; hugs and kisses left, right and centre, a quick drink to celebrate, backstage, help to pack away, on the coach and finally back to London. As I got in bed I  glanced at the clock which read 11.45. Eighteen hours and possibly one of the best days of my life. It certainly was time for some sleep, after all we needed to be back in school at ten the next day for rehearsals. Hertford’s show was only two days away. As my mother constantly reminds me “Well, you will choose these careers Tom!”

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