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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Nutcracker - the Positive Lessons Learned


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Wow, over the years (this is her tenth Nut!!!! How can that even be possible?!), DD and the rest of us have learned that it is the unexpected boo-boos and happenings that make each show memorable. The year the snow fell in a giant lump on her head and she looked like the abominable snowman during the dance - hilarious in retrospect; the year the box for the Chinese dancer wouldn't open, and the Nutcracker had to shake the dancer free - very funny now; Clara missing her cue and rushing on late; the Arabian costume not making it through the final split - all turn out to be great memories. So, for those of you just beginning the Nutcracker journey - things happen and it always turns out okay. Enjoy the show and each other!

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I used to be able attend every single performance of the Nutcracker my daughters were in, either as an audience member or by working backstage. When you can no longer do that, you begin to cherish all those performances and rehearsals even more. I miss the excitement of being a part of the production. It's hectic when you're going through it, but all the Nutcrackers will be fond memories someday. My daughter at her pre-pro school has learned that you can be happy with Snow Corps even though you were once a Snow Queen.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is my DD's first year in the Nut, even though she has dreamed of this for many, many years. Because we were late comers to a new studio this year and all of the roles were cast, my DD was added on as a big mouse and as an understudy for flowers and snow. Her private teacher wisely advised her that it is better to have that you actually had a role (mouse) and were selected as an understudy than to not dance at all. So with much resignation, DD accepted the mouse role and as her private teacher advised, put her all into the understudy parts, and made it to every rehearsal. Well, unfortunately, one of the snowflakes has injured her ankle and cannot dance the part en pointe, my DD had been selected (even though she was understudy #2) to dance the part this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. My DD has learned that even if you are not cast in one of the primo roles, that you should give your all to whatever role you are cast in, and even as an understudy, you should do your best and make sure that you know the part, just in case!!


I have also learned a lot this year, and look forward to many Nuts to come!!! Keep dancing everyone!!

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This was a special one for me -- my DD's first Sugar Plum Fairy role!! :blink: My husband and I sat sat in the dark and cried as we watched her dance. It's amazing to remember all those years and how they grew up through all those Nuts...

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Here's an essay that may strike a chord with many parents here. It's one mother's personal Nutcracker preparation story. It appears on the last page of the first section of the Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, December 8th. This page features readers' personal accounts of all kinds of life experiences.


My Nutcracker


I am a ballet mother, on my way to a long day of backstage work on our little neighbourhood dance school's production of The Nutcracker -- the highlight of our holiday season, something akin to a religious ritual all on its own. It's not just me. A fellow backstage parent once told me that while other families had various religious and cultural traditions at this time of year, his family had this production of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's enduring homage to a little German girl's Christmas pleasures and fantasies. He added that he and his wife weren't sure how they were going to celebrate the holiday once their daughter finished high school and wasn't in Nutcracker any more.
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Thank you for that Marga. That is such a good account of how it really is for those of us who volunteer backstage for Nutz every year. This is my first year not being the head costumer for a production (although I did do costumes for many). It was very strange sitting in the house watching for the first time in years without running backstage during intermission or watching from the wings. And I really miss being back there. It has been the start of the holiday season for as long as I can remember and was missed dearly.

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You're welcome! Nutcracker is a bittersweet part of our lives once we get involved. When that involvement lasts a decade or so, it can create many poignant, thrilling, heartfelt memories. In retrospect it is all good.

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We went to see our daughter's pre-pro Nutcracker yesterday and it was simply beautiful! My heart went out to one dancer who went down during a lovely performance of Flowers. I cried very proud tears for this young lady as she got up and went on with the rest of the variation as if nothing had happened. At 15, she showed so much professionalism and grace - a great lesson for all the dancers and audience members alike!

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All of us back stage learned two things this Nutcracker. For some reason, we had trouble getting parents to agree to help, especially backstage (one parent told us "I drive her to rehearsal once a week and that is it."). And some of the volunteers were no-shows. The middle school young ladies, some of whom are often real pests with their chatting, came through and were FABULOUS!! On the nights they did not perform (and often before and after they did) this group handled a ton of prop changes for party scene and battle and then helped with the quick changes. I was amazed with their willingness and the complete change in backstage demeanor. I think once they felt fully invested (this would not be the group on the lead track right now) in the show they gave us everything they had - it even showed in their dancing!

The second lesson was a reminder of why we do it. We benefit Dreams Come True and are sponsoring 2 girls this year. The six year old comes on some nights right at the beginning to sit in Clara's fathers lap and hear the story before the ballet. We had fitted her for a costume but had to change things at the last minute to make it easier for her (entire bow idea was scrapped due to hair loss and costume was simplified to accomodate some problems). She was so thrilled to see every dancer and loved the mice! It reminded the girls in every part how much magic they always make.

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