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part-time Drosselmayer


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In August, I told our artistic director there was no way my work schedule would allow me to appear in her Nutcracker this year.


In September, I showed her my calendar (with lots of time blocked out for business trips) and repeated that there was no way I had time to do "Nut".


Last week, against my better judgement, I accepted the role of Drosselmayer.


It seems that after years of surplus males crowding the classes and creating competition for male solos, the Academy of Classical Ballet (Denver, Colorado) finally has a man problem. I'm not good enough to do the Cavalier, Spanish, or Arabian. Too old to be the Prince. That leaves that mysterious old guy who shows up at the party and has some wierd psychological control thing going on with Clara. The guy who did it last year was a part-time magician, which made for some great stage business. However, he wanted to move on, rather than do a repeat. So after all my protestations - I'm Drosselmayer.


"Clara" and I had our first rehearsal yesterday. It went well, and I'm glad because later this week I start a 2 week out-of-town business trip (to Hawaii - poor me!). Upon my return, I'm going to be hammered trying to fit 6 weeks of rehearsal into 2 (did I mention another week long trip just a week before the performance?)


If I manage to pull this one off without tripping over my feet in performance or over-stressing at trying to fit everything in, it will be a miracle. Drossel's dance with Clara is a ong one, and relatively technical. I'm lucky that "Clara" is willing to accomodate my schedule and come in for private rehearsals whenever we can jam one in.


I'll keep you posted on my progress. Wish me "merde"!

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Hey, partner! Congrats on your Nut casting. You'll be a fine Drosselmeyer!


It'll be like the Richmond experience - learn it in a week and be ready for performance. Two weeks rehearsal time will seem like a luxury to you.


All the best to you.

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Be sure to get someone to tape it so we can all watch it at Richmond next year--with a bottle of wine nearby.

We tape all performances and it is quite likely that I'll have the tape of my December performance long before we get the tape from the August ADC show. In fact, I'll bet a bottle of wine on it.

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I'll bring my "Wizard of Oz" tape to Richmond and we'll have our own adult dance camp premieres in the hospitality suite. This year I'm Auntie Em (again--what else are they going to do with my 35 year old self?) and a [geriatric] poppy. The Em role is a character one--lots of emoting but no dancing. The poppy is in the mode of "waltz of the flowers" en pointe with long tutus and lots of interesting formations on stage. I'm understudying the flying monkeys because I think it's the coolest looking part in the show.

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:rolleyes: Oh, that sounds like great fun! What music do you use? An adaptation of the Arlen film score? Is Toto portrayed by a human or a canine?
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I'll bring my "Wizard of Oz" tape to Richmond and we'll have our own adult dance camp premieres in the hospitality suite.

Since Many ADC veterans perform, maybe we should have a video night in Richmond! Jim Bob Beam could show off his "Grandpa" from Nut.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Wishing you a big, steaming, pile of Merde!


Will you be wearing an eyepatch?



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The Ballanchine Trust will not allow us to videotape the Nutz we do in Stamford, CT USA.

To be brutally honest, it is very liberating to know noone is taping your performance.



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Barre Talk,


Yahoo for you! I'm a little green at everyone's performances, I promised my daughter that I would be full time "mother of the bride" w/nothing to distract me. Any yes, by all means, everyone bring their tapes and a bottle of wine and we will enjoy and cheer you on, but make it August, please!!!



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  • 2 weeks later...

Just a week to go until performance, so it's time for an update...


"Clara" has been wonderful to work with. Whenever I've been in town, she's accomodated my schedule with extra private rehearsals. Two days a week, I pick her up from high school, and we practice our dance for an hour or so with no distractions.


Last Saturday I missed a big rehearsal - setting the overall flow of Act 1. Drosselmayer plays a major role in the business of this act, so now I feel well behind the power curve. Tommorow's rehearsal is the "Act 1 studio dress" with full costume and makeup. We'll be running the act twice through, and the artistic director is well aware the first runthrough will also be my first time dealing with all my stage business. Should be interesting!


The reason I missed last weekend's rehearsals was a week-long trip to Los Angeles to direct the TV production of an adventure race taking place in the Santa Monica Mountains. Talk about putting a part at risk - all week I found myself sliding down rain-slick rocks in the canyons instead of practicing my pirouettes. I was envisioning the phone call: "Carla (artistic director), would it be OK if Drosselmayer was in a wheelchair?" I did manage to get together with Ed "2 Left Feet" to catch up over dinner. We'd planned to squeeze in a class, but he decided skipping out on work might equal corporate suicide.


Our productions always have to accomodate the conflicting demands of the adult dancers, and overall I don't think I've been any more delinquent than some others in getting to rehearsal. Excuses have ranged from weddings to Army duty. Another couple of weeks would make everyone a bit more secure, but somehow we'll be ready for opening night a week from now. Ballet is like sausage - you don't want to see it made.


If anyone reading this will be in Denver next weekend, be sure to come see us. Performances are at the Parsons Theatre inside Northglenn Community Center at 120th and I-25. Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 or Sunday at 2:30. The Sunday show is dangerously close to a sell-out right now. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 303-234-9352

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Fisrt of all, thanks for this first hand account. I imagine it's a fantasy many of us share to be involved in a ballet production in some capacity. Life and other commitments seems to keep me permanently distracted from following through on this idea. So, I'm enjoying hearing about your rehearsals and look forward to the performance review.


It was great getting together for dinner and more than one drink. :) I was really impressed by the amount of work and planning that goes into your job. I also thought about you all week as I remember making the comment "You won't have to worry about rain." Then we proceeded to have un-California like weather, cloudy, cold and rainy all week. I'm glad to hear slippery mountain trails didn't mean you have to do your part from a wheelchair.

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After the apocalypse - a report from studio dress rehearsal.


Yesterday (Saturday) was act 1 studio dress rehearsal. I'd forgotten how difficult this day is. More confusing than a three ring circus, noisier than a Metallica concert, more munchkins running around than a daycare center. This is the first time we run all the way through the act without stopping to make corrections. Obviously, that means any problems that have been unidentified until now will rear their ugly heads.


The afternoon starts with a mandatory parent meeting, explaining how the ballet is not a daycare center, so they MUST drop off and pick up their precious mice or soldiers to the theatre on time. Children must be delivered with clean faces ready for the makeup assembly line, hair must must be bunned, etc. etc. With flu season off to an early start, parents were told of of the aseptic procedures followed to insure nothing gets passed around, but also given the option of buying and doing their children's own makeup.


My experience paid off as I slipped into the dressing room at this point, avoiding the crush of 15 boys crowding the 4' x 6' space. Drosselmayer's dancing costume is black tights, black waistcoat, white ruffled shirt with red cumberbund, and a gorgeous black and red cape. During the party scene, Drossel wears tuxedo pants over the tights, and has a tophat when he arrives on the scene. Sorry to those who've asked - no eyepatch.


Even though it was snowing heavily outside, the studio quickly climbed to 75 degrees with all the bodies running around, so we left the door cracked to admit the 15 degree outside air. Wearing the cape, I was hot waiting to start, but nothing like the Dancing Bear, who layers that rubber padded outfit over the top of his Rat King costume (both have full head masks and the bear costume's is not removable).


After several false starts ("places - 5 minutes" followed 10 minutes later by "places - 5 minutes") and lot of yelling from our stressed-out artistic director, we finally got underway.


Two run throughs eliminated most of the kinks. The party hosts weren't present when we blocked Drossel's ceremonial entrance to the party, so first time through my entering swirl and bow into grande 4th introduced me to a maid (waiting to take my cape) and a gaggle of young children instead of the party hosts. Tiaras flew everywhere as dancers realized they need more than one bobby pin to tie them down. I discovered the tight waistcoat (borrowed from Colorado Ballet - thank you!) didn't have any pockets to hide needed items like the silk scarf I "repair" the broken Nutcracker with (solved by tucking into the cumberbund). I'm also supposed to carry a magic wand suitable for lighting Christmas trees, and there was no accessible place to hide that either. Fortunately, Drosselmayer has a loyal assistant who's always ready and willing to produce magic wands from beneath his clothing, so that problem got solved easily.


Today we do act 2. With the youngest kids out of the scene, it should go a lot smoother. Also, now that the artistic director has signed off on makeup and we don't have to put it on just to impress the little boys that EVERYONE wears it, no makeup today either. Merde.

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