An iceberg experience can be a real eye-opener


Glaciologists, scientists who study ice, long ago discovered that icebergs can be 50 to 100 times as large under the surface of the water than what we see above the water. Hence the term, “tip of the iceberg.” Last week I had the most amazing experience that clearly demonstrated that what we see when we go to a theatrical production is only the tip of the iceberg.

Several years ago my friend Jim Tunall narrated the Margaret McCann School of Dance Christmas ballet. Now you all know Jim liked nothing better than making community connections so when he said to me, “I think you ought to talk to Miss Margaret about being one of her narrators,” I enthusiastically agreed because you just don’t say no to Jim. And, if you could say no to Jim, you certainly cannot say no to the indomitable Miss Margaret. So, before I knew exactly what was happening I became the narrator for this year’s production of “The Nutcracker.”

Not knowing exactly what to expect, as I never took dance lessons, I arrived at the Juniata High School auditorium for the technical rehearsal.

People were everywhere and there were boxes and boxes of costumes, props and scenery. There stood Miss Margaret in the middle of the stage, calmly directing dancers, stage hands, costumers, and an assortment of other volunteers, amid organized chaos.

As I waited to be told what to do, a small dancer approached, “You have to wear your hair in a bun so Miss Margaret can see if you are dancing correctly. Just go to the big girl’s dressing room and they will help you. Want me to show you where that is?” I carefully explained to the little ballerina that I wouldn’t be dancing so I didn’t think I’d need to wear my hair in a bun. Skeptically she looked at me and said, “Well Miss Margaret will want you to.” Then, she skipped off to greet a friend.

Three hours later I was sitting in that auditorium just overwhelmed by what had transpired. I watched 50 young dancers practice their craft with a dedication and discipline that would make an armed forces drill sergeant proud. Never once did the dancers fuss, complain, or become unruly. They watched and waited patiently, playing on their iPads, drawing, reading and even studying for an upcoming chemistry test.

Adult volunteers worked tirelessly to make it snow onstage, arrange lighting, sell tickets and handle myriad details to ensure a flawless production. If Miss Margaret could bottle her strategy for recruiting and engaging volunteers she’d be a millionaire.

The next morning at the dress rehearsal I learned there was no detail too small to be corrected. Again, as I sat and watched my little dancer friend told me, “You aren’t wearing the right color lipstick. Miss Margaret says that ALL dancers should have on the same color lipstick so the audience will focus on the ballet, not on one dancer.” So, off I went to the big girl’s dressing room to get the right lipstick. It was just easier than trying to explain to this young ballerina that I wasn’t going to be on stage.

Often when I am writing a grant proposal I talk about how libraries bring literature alive for children and parents. I can tell you the production of “The Nutcracker” by the Margaret McCann School of Dance truly brought Hoffman’s fairy tale alive! The performance was a magical as the story.

After the show was over I started thinking about the iceberg experience in terms of the library. What you the user see is the material on the shelf waiting to be borrowed. But under the surface there is the budget for materials selection, the ordering, receiving, the cataloging, labeling, covering, entering the information in the card catalog and finally, the material is put on the shelf. You see the tip of the iceberg but much happens under the surface that isn’t visible when you visit the library.

If you didn’t see a production of “The Nutcracker” this year, you can still enjoy the story by borrowing the book version from the library. Hurry in before they are all checked out.


Molly S. Kinney is the director at the Mifflin County Library. She is currently reading, what else, “The Nutcracker.” Thanks Miss Margaret for a delightful and eye-opening experience!