On her toes
The Port Aransas High School senior will dance in the role of one of two fleurde lis in the Corpus Christi Concert Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker Nov. 26-28 at Selena Auditorium, part of American Bank Center, in Corpus Christi. (The Nov. 28 productions will be for school groups only. That includes a group from Port Aransas schools.)
Hazel, 17, has spent years practicing to get where she is now. It’s meant a lot of hard work. But she has enjoyed it.
“I just love movement,” said Hazel, a senior at Port Aransas High School. “When I go to ballet class, it’s kind of like my time to move and express myself. … It’s like a release. Even though you’re learning, and it’s intense, and it’s really hard, it’s still something really fun to do.”
Hazel, the daughter of Jay and Marci Morris of Port Aransas, got started in ballet when she was only three years old. Marci said she did it to give her daughter an activity that was all her own. (Hazel was constantly in danger of being trampled, figuratively, by her younger brothers – triplets named Ty, Jason and Elliott, now 15 years old.)
“I didn’t know anything about ballet at all,” Marci said. “We were living in Central Texas, Lampasas, at the time, able to do something away from the boys, that was just her thing, something she could do with other little girls, because she was with the boys all the time.
“Ballet was what was available to us,” Marci said. “We took her to one class, and she just loved it. And we kept going back to another and another.”
Hazel’s first public performances were in class recitals. Her first big production came when she was eight years old, performing as an angel at a Nutcracker show put on by the Corpus Christi Ballet. (By then, the family had moved to the Coastal Bend.)
She has been in the Nutcracker every year since then – some years with the Corpus Christi Ballet, and some years with the Corpus Christi Concert Ballet, a separate group.
The role of the fleur-de-lis is the biggest part Hazel ever has had. It’s the most technically advanced Nutcracker role she has danced.
She performs during a portion of the ballet called the Waltz of the Flowers and also during the introduction and finale to the second act.
She also is a corps member who dances in a part of the ballet called the Waltz of the Snowflakes.
Hazel is a senior company member with the Corpus Christi Concert Ballet.
“She has improved immensely to be a very assured, polished young dancer,” said Nancy Sulik, artistic director with the Corpus Christi Concert Ballet and Ballet Academy.
“She’s very sharp, interpretive wise,” said Sulik, who has worked with Hazel for nine years. “She can dance to almost any style of music. She has a great feel for music, for what the dance vision is.”
Hazel sees ballet as a sport.
“In my personal opinion, ballet is the hardest sport,” she said. “It’s really physically demanding. You have to develop muscles, just like in any other sport. And it’s harder than other sports, because you’ve got to smile and look dainty and pretty. So, you’re on stage, and your toe hurts, and your muscles are sore, but you can’t grunt and run around like in other sports.”
Still, she loves dance.
“I have since I was little,” Hazel said. “I always have been excited to go to classes and be in productions. The main part of it is that it’s really expressive. It’s a freedom of expression, an art form, and it’s the only art form that incorporates all of the arts: Music, artfully created costumes, backdrops, acting and dance.”
Ballet also has taught her some good lessons about life, she said. Doing public performances has helped her learn to deal with pressure, she said.
“And I have good respect for adults,” Hazel said, “because I’ve had so many good teachers, choreographers, throughout the years.”
Ballet also has taught her something about time management. She generally goes to practices in Corpus Christi on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with each practice lasting two to five hours throughout most of the year. When it’s close to time for a production, practices might be every day for a while.
“I’m balancing school, my job and rehearsals, so I’ve learned to prioritize and get everything done to my fullest potential,” she said.
Hazel works part-time as front and back assistant at the Venetian Hotplate restaurant in Port Aransas. That means she brings customers bread, refills water and tea, buses tables, shines silverware and puts things away in the back.
Hazel is taking advanced and dual credit courses and currently is near the top of her class, grade-wise.
She also is a member of the PAHS Key Club, National Honor Society, Environmental Science Club and student council.
It can be hard, at times, to balance all of that with work and ballet.
“It’s difficult, but I think it’s a skill I’ll need for college and when I get a job,” Hazel said. “So, I think it’s good that I’ve developed that skill.”
Questions? Comments? Contact Dan Parker at (361) 749- 5131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.