Dec. 24, 2009
SEATTLE - It may be hard to rattle Quincy Pondexter when he is in front of 10,000 screaming fans on the basketball court, but when it came time to take the stage for the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker on Wednesday night, Pondexter was admittedly all nerves.
"I've been nervous since our game ended last night," said Pondexter, who scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a 73-64 win over 19th-ranked Texas A&M on Tuesday.
But like most stars, Pondexter was able to overcome his doubts and shined brightly under the intense spotlight.
Easing his nerves was the welcoming cast and crew of the Nutcracker. Several weeks back when getting fitted for his costume, Pondexter expressed his hopes to the costume designers that someone would have flowers for him during the performance. Sure enough, when he arrived at the stage door for McCaw Hall in the Seattle Center, he was greeted by one of the little girls in the cast with flowers.
Pondexter was immediately ushered to the make-up room where he was transformed for his role as Grandfather. The make-up artist spent about 30 minutes aging him approximately 40 years for his role. When Pondexter dressed in his costume and donned a wig, he was in full character and ready to learn his steps.
The 6-foot-6 Pondexter was paired with a young girl who was barely taller than his knees. The young lady remarked, 'wow, you're really tall' when she laid eyes on Pondexter for the first time. He appropriately replied in his nicest voice 'and you're really short.' The pair practiced their steps with two other cast members and in typical Pondexter fashion, he proved to be a quick learner and mastered his part with ease.
Before the show started, Husky coach Lorenzo Romar visited Pondexter backstage and advised him that 'those who don't know the moves, won't know if you make a mistake and those who do won't care!' Pondexter joked with Romar about dressing up for the performance (coach had a black sportscoat on) to ease his nerves.
When the curtain rose, Pondexter was able to hide his nerves on the stage. He towered over everyone onstage and lots of the dancers watched from the wings and remarked how well he was doing.
After less than five minutes of action Pondexter then took on a role he is not used to playing -- bench-warmer. He left the stage and gave way to the professionals, joining his family in the crowd for the rest of the performance. And like a true bench-warmer, Pondexter really appreciated his limited action in the big game.
"It was a great experience that I will never ever forget," said Pondexter following the show. "I really appreciate all the support I've received as well as the Pacific Northwest Ballet for letting me have this wonderful opportunity."