Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Candy Cane Twist: The Story of a Christmas Ballet Choirmaster

“This year, we’re going to combine singing with ballet in the annual Christmas concert,” choirmaster Forte Piper announced at the first chorus practice of Head of the Class Middle School in Hoboken, New Jersey. “The Hallelujah Chorus meets The Nutcracker. It’s never been done before, and we have to break new ground.” 

Mr. Piper was famous for popping candy canes into the mouths of students if they were caught talking in the middle of choir practice. He kept a handful of candy canes with him at all times, ready for anyone babbling. 

In case he needed to pull someone off stage, he used a shepherd’s crook, which looked like a huge candy cane. 

“Candy canes are the only way to keep you quiet!” Mr. Piper snapped, shoving one into Drummer Harp’s mouth. “Do you notice how the rest of the seventh-grade students are listening? Use your bass solo voice when asked.”

“I have no idea how to dance the ballet!” sixth grade lead tenor Griff Gig argued, as he got a candy cane up the nose. “You missed my mouth. I can still talk!” 

Mr. Piper quickly pulled the candy cane out Griff’s nose and put it into his mouth.

“I love the ballet!” seventh grade solo soprano Mandolin Sonatina whispered to sixth grade Seraphine Viola.

“You can’t dance any better than I can dance!” solo alto Seraphine responded. “This is supposed to be choir!”

Both girls got candy canes popped into their mouths before they could say anything else, kind or otherwise.

“I even got my own tutu for the rehearsal,” Mr. Piper showcased, dressed in a red and white striped outfit.

The children sat in stupendous fright at the thought of the entire school seeing them embarrass themselves. 

“We start our first vocal ballet practice tomorrow!” Mr. Piper explained. “Come prepared with your own tutu.”

Then, the bell rang, ending the most dreadful choir practice in the near memory of Head of the Class Middle School.

“We’ve got to come up with a plan,” Drummer told the other choir members on the way out of the door.

“Yeah, we’re not letting Mr. Piper do this,” Griff agreed. “He’s bored, and he’s a nutcracker.”

“I think we should go along with his practice until the performance night,” Mandolin suggested.

“He’s going to suspend us if we don’t do what he says,” Seraphine warned. “My parents will be so angry.”

“Okay, so the plan is to do what he says until December 14th, the night of the performance,” Drummer declared.

“Then, we keep him in the music closet using one of his candy canes as a key to lock the door,” Griff brainstormed.

“We could just sing the same old songs that we performed last year,” Mandolin added. “No one will notice.”

“If he gets out of the closet, the night will mostly be over. We’ll have saved our reputations,” Seraphine stated.

The four soloists passed the word to the rest of the chorus members, and for the next few months endured practice.

“Pirouette!” Mr. Piper charged the students. “If I can do it, you can do it, too! On your toes everybody!”

“This is a nightmare!” the students mumbled to each other. “We should’ve signed up for band or orchestra.” 

When performance night finally arrived, Mr. Piper was pulled off stage with his candy cane crook and locked in the music closet. 

“Wait! I’m sorry,” Mr. Piper called, kicking the door. “I didn’t mean to humiliate you through ballet dancing!”

He slumped down on the floor and cried because of his bullying behavior toward his wonderful students.

“Mr. Piper wasn’t feeling well tonight,” Drummer explained to the crowd at the microphone on stage. “We sing on!”

“And He shall reign forevermore,” the chorus finished for the evening after several holiday selections, as Mr. Piper broke out of the closet and ran across stage in a tizzy in his hideous tutu. “For ever and ever, hallelujah, hallelujah!”

The audience laughed as though it was a joke, and so it was, but it was also the best choral performance in the history of Head of the Class Middle School, and it didn’t involve one bit of ballet dancing for the choir. 

“Merry Christmas!” Mr. Piper bowed in his tutu, throwing candy canes to the crowd in good cheer. 

“Next year, we’ll be doing a ballet with our singing,” Mr. Piper scolded and informed the parents. “You just wait!”

“I’m going out for the basketball team, and so is everyone else,” Drummer challenged with fighting words. 

“Maybe we could just take a field trip to the New York City Ballet instead,” Mr. Piper compromised, as the students once again pulled him off the stage with his own candy cane shepherd’s crook. “I’ll buy the tickets!”

Copyright 2021 Jennifer Waters

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