The role of Colin is danced by Joshua Burnham, who is 27 years old -- exactly the age Colin would be today if he had lived. He is the perfect fit for Colin (except for the hair, which would require a Marine buzz cut).
"She brought in one of his dress uniforms for me to put on," said Burnham. "It fit me like a glove, like it had literally been tailor-made for me."
Amy Wolfe was the obvious perfect fit for the role of Colin's mother, but would she have the heart?
"I think she needs to dance the part," said Burnham.
"Right now I am rehearsing, I am doing my role," she said, "but I have not decided if I am the one who will perform it."
"We had a talk," said Burnham. "And I told her, you know, there's no one that can embody those emotions the way she can."
The ballet opens with the worst night of her life -- the night she learned Colin had been killed.
"My husband and I were in bed," she said. "I had not slept at all that night. People say, mother's intuition.
It was 4:30 in the morning and the doorbell rang."
Her husband went to the window and said, "Amy, it's two Marines."
Two real Marines would play the part.
In rehearsals, Wolfe instructed: "Now when this really happened, Aug. 31, 2006, for whatever reason I grabbed the hand of the Marine closest to me. And you will pretend to say, 'We are so sorry, but yesterday, you know, Colin was killed in action.'"
And for the preview performance, more real Marines would be in the audience, including Colin's commanding officer.
Martin asked Wolfe, "What do you hope his fellow Marines get from this ballet?"
"I hope they will stop wishing that they had been the one who had died," replied Wolfe. "I hope that they will say, 'I need to make the most of my life, because I was spared and I am meant to do good things.'"
Hill told Martin, "You know, that's taken me all this -- that's taken me these past eight years to figure that out."
And then there was Amy Wolfe -- dancing the role of her lifetime, heartbreak and love in every step.
"Every death helps those of us who are left behind to come together, to reach out to each other, to love each other better," she said. "It is sad that sometimes we have to grieve in order to love better, but it is true."
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