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Ahern: Dancing integral part of Beverly girls’ lives

Lily Ryan (left) Faith Carey both were accepted incast “The Nutcracker” thwas staged this past Christmas Auditorium Theatre by Joffrey

Lily Ryan (left) and Faith Carey both were accepted into the cast of “The Nutcracker” that was staged this past Christmas at the Auditorium Theatre by the Joffrey Ballet. | Supplied Photo

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Updated: February 14, 2013 6:14AM



When Lily Ryan, 12, and Faith Carey, 13, talk about their auditions for “The Nutracker,” both describe the nervousness they felt.

“The Nutcracker,” which was staged at the Auditorium Theatre by the Joffrey Ballet, is a holiday standard. When Lily and Faith, both of Chicago’s Beverly community, auditioned for the show in 2011 and 2012, both were accepted as performers. Both said if they can meet the show’s height requirements, they would love to audition for this year’s show.

“It was overwhelming,” Lily, a seventh-grade student at St. Barnabas School, said about her first audition. “They just showed a couple of dances and then we had to perform them. I had to learn it really fast.”

“It was nerve-racking,” said Faith, also a seventh-grader at St. Barnabas. “They measured us and gave us a number, and when they showed us the dances, I just paid really close attention and went over it in my head.”

The girls were not the only ones to feel nervous. Both moms talked about the tension of waiting through the audition process, and both mentioned how hard it was to see girls who were not accepted for the show in 2011.

For this most recent Christmas show, instead of immediately telling girls the outcome of the audition, producers notified the families by email, about a week after the tryouts.

“Lily didn’t seem that overwhelmed,” Leigh Ryan said, speaking of the 2011 audition. “She went up and had nerves of steel, but I went into a puddle. It was just mayhem, and there were a lot of girls. Lots of girls.

“You can imagine that afterwards, some girls were crying and some are so happy. I’m not one of those moms that thinks everybody gets a trophy, but it is heartbreaking to see girls who don’t make it.”

Monica Carey, Faith’s mom, said she also noticed how many auditioned, and said it was better that the girls found out the results of the audition by email.

“The first audition (in 2011) took forever,” Monica Carey said. “The girls went upstairs around 10 a.m. and didn’t come back down until late in the afternoon. I think this time they had a better process. The Joffrey held two shorter auditions, and they didn’t tell the girls right away.

“While it is important for the girls to experience a real audition, they are still kids.”

Both girls have been taking ballet for many years. Lily started when she was 3, and Faith started when she was 4. They already had discipline built from years of dancing, but it was not easy to coordinate school schedules along with rehearsals.

Practice for “The Nutcracker” started in October, when the girls worked about an hour and a half every Sunday. Once the performances started, they had to leave school early or miss days completely. In addition, the girls are both in extra dance classes as well.

“School kept being a priority,” Leigh said. “They give you a big packet of papers, though, explaining that it is a commitment for the child and for the parents. Lily’s pretty organized though, and when most kids are involved in so many things, they learn that organization, which is a skill that you can’t really teach.”

Monica agreed with Leigh.

“It is demanding, but it is such a nice experience and so nice for her to meet different girls,” she said. “It’s a good life experience, and gives them some professional experience, too.”

Once it was time for the show, the girls said they felt prepared, and their nervousness took a back seat to the idea of performing. The girls also agreed that meeting new friends was one of the best parts of being involved in the show.

“I was excited and forgot how nervous I was,” Faith said. “Since this was my second year, I already knew the rules, like not talking too loud backstage so that we can hear our calls.

“I would like to try this again. I got really tired in the middle — there were so any shows — but I still would like to try again. It’s a good opportunity to meet new people who have the same interest as you.”

Lily had a similar reaction to the show.

“The first time I performed, I was so scared,” she said. “But my friends said, ‘We’ll do fine,’ and then I thought to myself, ‘This is easy. I can do this.’ I really liked being on stage and seeing the professionals goofing around. They do goof around a lot, and it was really fun to see all this.”

Monica said she felt that, in general, dance has been a plus in her daughter’s life.

“Dance has been a fantastic activity for Faith,” she said. “It keeps her physically fit, and has given her a chance to be a part of something special.”



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