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  • Lauren Flower

"I deserved better."

I am a bisexual ballet dancer and I’m gender fluid. I was a new company member at the time with this ballet company I loved. I was full of so much joy and excitement being around new people and dancing all the time. We were rehearsing Nutcracker and I was a maid in the party scene, so naturally I paid attention to other people’s choreography in Act 1 just in case. The guy who danced the Jester Doll (a new company dancer) didn’t show up to rehearsal one day. As the music to his dance played, I started to do one of his steps and my director encouraged me to keep going. I danced his whole variation and the whole room clapped with excitement after I finished the dance. I even added mechanical blowing kisses at the ballerina doll while she danced her variation. In the back of my head I wondered if people thought I was trying to be funny or if anyone took me seriously when dancing the guy’s part.

Tech rehearsal came around and the Jester Doll didn’t show up. I remember being onstage as a maid while his music played, and heard a sound from the audience. One of the company dancers said to me that my director was telling me to dance! I danced his whole variation, maid costume and all. Everyone clapped again for me like the first time.

Later that same day was our dress rehearsal that had a real audience and the orchestra. The Jester Doll still didn’t show up and my heart was racing 30 min before curtain wondering if I would need to try on his costume and get ready to go offstage during the party scene to slip on the costume over my maid one. (All the maid does during his dance is just stand there.) I rushed down to the stage to see if I was needed and would have the chance to dance a solo I loved only to hear secondhand that my director had his variation music written out! The partnering section was quickly re-choreographed onto the ballerina doll and Drosselmeyer ... but why get rid of the Jester Doll? Why get rid of me?

It hurt me very deeply that I was reliable and trusted to dance that role only to be rejected when it was in front of an audience because I’m not a guy. I did finally get a solo with this company after almost two years, but I can’t help but think that not being a guy had something to do with it. It’s ridiculous and I deserved better.


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