I cannot seem to give up on the dream of tutus, tiaras, and pointe shoes.
Nothing gives me the same combination of feelings as the first time each year when I hear the “Waltz of the Snowflakes.” Many former dancers groan at the sound; I am still filled with excitement. As I approach what I hope to be my 22nd Nutcracker performance with Canyon Concert Ballet, I can say that performing with the women of the ballet has been one of the greatest honors of my life.
I have often heard people say that groups of women cannot work together well. Fortunately for me, I have a lifetime of trusting women to come together and help each other. One of my first memories of ballet performances as an eight-year-old is realizing, as I put on my costume to go on stage, that I left my ballet shoes at home. I was lucky that a woman with particularly small feet came to my rescue and lent me her shoes. I often think of that moment while I help other women or others aid me with quick changes in the wings.
When I stopped doing ballet to go to law school, I did not appreciate all the skills I was taking with me.
In fact, it was not until many years later, when someone framed the decision to make a drastic focus change in my life as “brave,” that I realized the real mark the women of the ballet made on my life. I never questioned whether I was capable. I observed my mentors and role models, all of whom carried at least two of the titles of dancer, mother, teacher, college professor, patent attorney, engineer, or business owner, and thought that if they could do it, I could too. The confidence of that team gave me confidence in myself.
After several years away from the ballet studio, I made my way back. Now, I am an attorney who dances in the ballet company at night. The schedule is grueling. I am often exhausted physically and emotionally as I maneuver between the two worlds. As I juggle the many appointments required to keep my body on my team, along with the demanding schedule of my dancer life and my attorney life, I am often encouraged to do less. It is hard to change the routine of something that has become so much a part of me and been so rewarding in spite of the demands.
During the Nutcracker season, when I leave the office at 5 pm, you can find me eating dinner and catching up on calls as I make my way to the dance studio. I quickly change from business attire to leotard and tights and secure my hair into some semblance of a bun.
As I walk into the studio, I am greeted by one of my greatest mentors and someone I consult with on many business matters. She was a party mother in the Nutcracker when I was a child. Then, I get to talk with a recent college graduate who is trying to determine what is next for her, after talking to a third grader about the wonderful book she just read. All this is happening while there are tiny dancers in tutus watching all of us take our spaces to begin class.
Everyone in the room goes silent as the ballet teacher I have worked with since I was twelve shows the first combination of the evening. The piano player plays the first notes, and we begin our 90-minute ballet class together. For me, this always includes shedding the weight of something opposing counsel said or turning off my to-do list. When I look around, I note the unity of this diverse group of all ages and backgrounds—so much coming out of the dream of tutus and tiaras.
After class, we have rehearsal until 9:15 pm. One of my favorite rehearsals is the snow scene. There is a section of that dance about three-fourths of the way through where everyone is a little tired—we all know the hardest part is in front of us. The feeling of a united team and knowing what we can do together drives us forward. We have all learned to support each other, even when we are sometimes competitors. I love to look out at the audience, see the magic in their eyes, and just know that we are about to take their breath away. Nothing feels the same as the feeling of complete joy I get in the silence at the end of the snow scene, just before the applause. That moment is filled with the joy of accomplishment and complete appreciation for all that comes with ballet.
It would not be possible for me to accurately portray all that I have been gifted from the ballet. My legal world is often far away from my ballet world that my time in one allows me an escape from the other. I am lucky that Fort Collins has a non-profit dance studio that allows adults with full-time jobs to participate on a high, competitive level. I am honored to be able to help encourage the young dancers to honor their passion for dance but also show them that they too can love more than one title. I am always hoping that having me on their team will give them confidence in their own capability.
To learn when Canyon Concert Ballet adds performances, new classes, and more, please visit: https://www.ccballet.org/ or connect with Rikke through Liska & Smith, P.C.’s website (https://www.legalep.com/attorneys).
Rikke M. Liska grew up in Loveland, Colorado. She received her undergraduate degree in 2007 from Colorado State University in Communication Studies. Rikke earned her law degree from Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in 2011. She focuses her legal practice on estate planning, probate or small estate administration, and guardianship and conservatorship proceedings.
Rikke enjoys teaching people about estate planning and the law. She understands that the legal process can be intimidating and is dedicated to giving her clients confidence by making the process easier to understand.
Rikke currently serves as the Deputy Public Administrator for Larimer County.
Rikke is active the in legal community, volunteering on a number of committees through the Colorado Bar Association with the Elder Law and Trusts & Estates sections.