Some thoughts about volunteering at Marin Ballet, by Jeanne-Marie Crowe
I have been volunteering at Marin Ballet for 16 years. I began in the spring of 2008 when my daughter Esther Rose was in Creative Movement. I learned to do ballet buns and smooth wispy hairs on wiggly, excited young dancers. I loved guiding and calming the exuberant, nervous dancers before their first performances.
After those Pre-Ballet spring performances, I was hooked, each year gaining new skills and knowledge about all of the work and magic that goes on behind the scenes at Marin Ballet. Once my son Quinn began dancing, it became a way to stay engaged and connected to the Marin Ballet world my kids loved and devoted so much of their time to.
Most of my volunteering has been spent in the wardrobe and dressing rooms. I have learned so much from wardrobe mistress Shannon Miller, costume designer Christine Darch, and fellow volunteers, Terry Dawson, Lynn Simons, and others. I am not a talented seamstress, but there are always tasks I am capable of — sewing on name tags, hooks and snaps, and making small repairs and adjustments to costumes. It is wonderful to spend time with others doing handwork and witnessing costumes being built, altered, and made beautiful.
My first Nutcracker was the year my daughter was a Sweet Tooth Fairy. I began on “Stage Right” with the younger children, learning about the timing and flow of the show, details about the dancers’ hair and costumes, as well as supporting and guiding our children as they went on and off stage, witnessing their excitement and joy, and drying an occasional tear. When Quinn began dancing in the Nutcracker, there were a few young boys and I became the “boy mom,” herding the boys, helping them into and out of costumes, and ensuring they didn’t get lost in the labyrinth of backstage (often wondering how Mr. Kato kept up with the boys and their liveliness in class). I eventually moved to “Stage Left” with the older dancers and the world of more detailed costumes, fast costume changes, and supporting the dancers as they helped each other and gained more independence.
I have just completed my 13th Nutcracker! This makes me laugh; I’ve done more Nutcrackers than either of my kids! Some other ways that I have volunteered at Marin Ballet — I have worked as the dressing room manager for spring shows, and have had the privilege of traveling as a chaperone with our upper-level students to The Ballet Alliance in Spokane and El Paso. I was part of the 60th Anniversary Planning Committee.
There are so many wonderful ways to volunteer at Marin Ballet. I encourage all parents to become involved! Volunteering provides you with the opportunity to support Marin Ballet and our children. It allows you to have a window into so much of what Marin Ballet offers our children – movement, fun, friendships, focus, teamwork, grace, strength, and a love of dance — gifts that will provide them with a foundation that will last a lifetime. You will build friendships with other parents, get to know the staff and faculty at MB, as well as the dancers. You will behold the children blossoming from adorable Sweet Tooth Fairies and Gnomes, and Golden Eggs, to vibrant Russians and Spanish Dancers, to graceful Flours and magical Snow, to Nutcracker and Clara. Come and join the fun!
When not volunteering at Marin Ballet, Jeanne-Marie is a hospital-based nurse-midwife. She has the privilege of caring for women throughout their lives, supporting people giving birth, and experiencing the joy of catching and welcoming babies as they enter the world.