In this blog, Parent Volunteer Coordinator Di Anna Kurriger talks about life backstage with the youngest dancers in Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

PNB School students get ready to perform in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at McCaw Hall April 8-17. Photo courtesy of Terri Luken.

Spring time is here again with the arrival of brightly colored green bugs! As the Parent Volunteer Coordinator for Pacific Northwest Ballet, my job allows me the wonderful opportunity to help children from PNB School perform in many full length story ballets with the Company. This opportunity gives the children an inside view of the professional dance world. They are selected from our schools, which are located in Seattle and Bellevue. Depending on the ballet, the children either audition for the part or are handpicked by the school staff. A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream has a cast of 43 children from PNB School ranging from Level I to Level VI. They will perform in two casts of 25, with the 24 “Bugs” and one “Titania’s Page” appearing in each show.

I teach the children to come prepared for their transformation into our dancing bugs! Once all children arrive at McCaw Hall and are accounted for, we head to our dressing room to begin the metamorphosis. Lucky to have parents that are trained in applying “Bug” make-up, the children receive brightly colored eyes, finished off with eyeliner and blush. Next it is on to costuming with the aid of assigned dressers. A dresser’s duties include handing out costumes, making sure they fit correctly, collecting all costumes after the children have performed, and they also aid in cleaning and mending. After the all costumes are on their assigned dancer, the final touches are completed. Pining of hats, or in this show, the bug’s antennas are secured on each smiling head. Completing the look, the last of the make-up is applied – a neutral colored lipstick.

Time is now nearing to be called to the stage. With excitement and anticipation, we listen for our call on the speaker system from the Stage Manager, “5 minutes and “Bugs” to the stage”. After a final inspection to ensure no hair is showing from underneath their hats and their ballet shoes have no strings hanging out, the bugs get in line to travel to the stage. Heading down the old Opera House staircase which leads to the stage, I feel like a mama duck, placing the “Bugs” in the wings, ready to perform. With huge smiles and nervous feet the children listen for the live orchestra to come alive with music. I remind my “Bugs”, they are ready, smile, and remember to count the music. Counting, 6, 7, 8… off they GO!

Pacific Northwest Ballet Presents George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
April 8-17, 2011
TICKETS: 206.441.2424 or

Featured photo: PNB School student dancers in George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Angela Sterling.