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Obama interview with Chris Matthews bumps young ballerinas from theater

10:14 AM, Dec 5, 2013   |    comments
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President Barack Obama speaks at the Jacksonville Port in Jacksonville, Florida, Thursday, July 25, 2013.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- An interview with the President of the United States of America doesn't happen every day.

"A performance of the Nutcracker doesn't happen for my daughter every day either," countered Emily King, mother of an 8-year-old ballerina at Ballet Petite. 

King's daughter is one of about 160 girls who have spent months practicing for their annual Nutcracker performance at American University's Greenberg Theater.

"There's a lot of work involved with this," said Charlotte Weir, 10, who has been with the company for seven years.

Despite the company having booked the theater back in January -- as they have every year for the last several years -- they were notified Tuesday afternoon by AU that their final two critical dress rehearsals that were planned for Wednesday and Thursday night would have to be rescheduled to Sunday - the same day of their opening day performances. 

Instead, AU gave up the theater space for MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews to interview President Obama.

Ballet staff said that means they'll have to consolidate two dress rehearsals and two performances meant for three days into a single day, turning what was already supposed to be a long 8-hour Sunday into an even longer 12-hour Sunday for the girls. 

"It's really long for anybody, but especially for my daughter - she's eight!" stressed King.

Melissa Carey, the artistic director at Ballet Petite, said she understands that a presidential interview is of important public interest.

"But at the same time," she added, "Why did you have to move someone in order to do it? There are other theaters at American [University] - I mean, I don't know what the scheduling like is at those, but, couldn't you do it somewhere else?" asked Carey, before she stressed that the ballet company has had a "great relationship and rapport" with the Greenberg Theater staff in recent years.

American University issued the following statement:

"We regret the short notice, and do recognize the impact of the compacted time frame for preparations on the dancers and the company. As a result, the university is offering substantial concessions to the dance company for rental and labor and are working to accommodate the interests of all parties while ensuring that the show goes on for Ballet Petite."

King was not particularly moved. 

"This says that [the kids'] performance is not important and it is. They poured their heart and souls into this for the last few months," said the mother of two.

While frustrated and still a bit shocked, Carey said, ultimately, she thinks this was an oversight. 

"I think the powers that be probably looked at it and saw that it was a rehearsal and didn't realize what it was for and that it involved little kids and such a large production."

Weir, who has been with the company since she was 3, will play the role of the Mouse King--an active role that will keep moving all day.

"I have a lot of places that I need to be at, so, it's gonna be a little bit harder. But i'll get through it," said Weir.

Perhaps the only thing as important as the right moves, is the right attitude.

After all, as Weir so pointedly added, "The show must go on."

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