Nutcracker Survival Tips
Nutcracker season is in full swing! We asked Boston Ballet principals (and siblings!) Lia and Jeffrey Cirio for their best tips about how to survive and thrive during the run of performances. Be sure to catch Boston Ballet’s brand-new Nutcracker November 23-December 30.
Dance Spirit: What’s your favorite Nutcracker role to dance?
Lia Cirio: I know most dancers love Sugar Plum, which I enjoy, but I’ve always been more drawn to Dew Drop and the Snow Queen. Mainly because of the music--I feel like it flows through my body nicely.
Jeffrey Cirio: I don’t really have a favorite--I like them all. I used to love to dance the Harlequin Doll role because I would be done after the first act!
DS: How do you fuel your body each day during the grueling season?
LC: During the Nutcracker season (and any other performance season) I eat bananas and drink coconut water to keep my body fueled with potassium.
JC: I just eat lots of food. Well, maybe I eat more cookies!
DS: How do you keep each performance fresh?
LC: It’s always rough doing 40 or so shows, but I try to remember that every show is someone’s first time seeing ballet and you have to make it special for them. Nutcracker helped me fall in love with ballet, and now I’m living my dream. Who knows--I could be helping someone else’s dreams come true! I also try to appreciate the beautiful Tchaikovsky music.
DS: What’s the hardest part of Nutcracker season?
LC: Trudging through the snow! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to walk through a blizzard and then dance Sugar Plum!
JC: When it’s mid-season and you realize you still have 20 shows to go!
DS: What’s the best part?
LC: Glitter! I love getting to sparkle for the audience, especially the children.
JC: The fact that it’s Christmas. It’s a wonderful time of year, filled with faith, love, family, friends and children.
DS: Is there anything you like to do outside of the theater to get into the holiday spirit?
LC: I love Christmas, so it’s not hard for me to get into the spirit. I love shopping for gifts for my friends and family, but I also like to make gifts, whether they’re scarves made out of t-shirts or zip-ups with painted designs. My friends and I also like to have tree-decorating parties while sipping hot apple cider.
DS: What’s the key to a successful Nutcracker run?
JC: It’s important to remember is that it’s all about the children in the audience. We’re there to bring them joy.
Taja Riley's bold, full-out presence and unique ability to mix hard-hitting hip hop with smooth, sensual choreography paved the way for her success in the commercial industry. She's danced with music icons like Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Pitbull, and Bruno Mars, and has assisted with choreography for Britney Spears' Femme Fatale tour, Demi Lovato's Skyscraper tour, and Beyoncé's Mrs. Carter tour. She also appeared in Beyoncé's groundbreaking visual album Lemonade. Raised in Virginia Beach, VA, Riley grew up training at Denise Wall's Dance Energy. Currently, she's on faculty at New York City Dance Alliance, where you can catch her touring the convention circuit. —Courtney Bowers
P!nk, known for her high-flying, acrobatic awards show sets, has literally raised the bar for pop stars everywhere. For her performance at last night's American Music Awards, P!nk decided to break out some flips and tricks ON THE SIDE OF A BUILDING. WHILE FLAWLESSLY SINGING HER FACE OFF. You know, just casually, like you do when you're a full-on goddess.
When you think of a dancer, a double leg amputee may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Eric Graise, who's one of the stars of the upcoming "Step Up: High Water" YouTube Red series, hopes to change that. Graise, whose legs were amputated as a child due to missing fibula bones, will play a character named King in the new dance series, set to debut early next year.
We all suffer from Nutcracker fatigue sometimes. After a zillion performances, it's hard not to. But there's nothing to restore your little-kid sense of Nutcracker wonder like a look at the sheer scale of a world-class Nut.
New York City Ballet's iconic production of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker opens on Friday, and for the past week, the company has been Tweeting out some seriously eye-popping #NutcrackerNumbers. The stats cover everything from the number of jingle bells used on each Candy Cane costume (that'd be 144) to the watts of light used in the show's grand finale (ONE. MILLION. WATTS.).
Oh hey there, Hallmark Channel! The producer of all those sweet, homey movies best watched in your PJs with your mom has a super dance-y film on its holiday lineup this season: A Nutcracker Christmas. And the casting is—to use a very Hallmark-y pun—perfectly on pointe.
A Nutcracker Christmas tells the story of a talented professional dancer, Lilly, whose supportive sister dies just as Lilly is about to perform the role of Clara in The Nutcracker with New York City Ballet. (Nit-picky fact-checking: In New York City Ballet's Nutcracker, she's known as Marie and danced by a child, but OK.) Lilly's boyfriend and dance partner, Mark, keeps her from performing in the show, which makes Lilly declare she'll never dance again. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and Lilly's niece, Sadie, is about to dance Clara in a different company's Nutcracker—a company run by, of all people, Mark. And tons of drama ensues.
Yes, it's a whole lot of plot to wrap your head around. But the real story here is that Sadie is played by none other than the phenomenal Sophia Lucia, and the ever-dashing Sascha Radetsky is also involved in the project. (Radetsky's exact role is unclear from the press material, but he seems like a pretty natural fit for Mark, no?) The odds seem good that we'll get the gift of some very high-quality dancing. Merry Christmas to us!
Sophia Lucia showing off those banana feet (via @sophialucia5678)
You can catch A Nutcracker Christmas on December 10 at 8 pm. Get your slippers and hot cocoa ready.
Consistent turns are a must for aspiring professional dancers, but pretty much everyone struggles with pirouettes at some point. Luckily, since we're all beholden to the same rules of physics, there are concrete steps every dancer can take to reach his or her top turning potential. “Three is the new two when it comes to pirouettes, but the secret to turning is technique, not magic," says Bojan Spassoff, president and director of The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.
Falling out of your doubles? Aspiring to go revolution for revolution with your class's star turner? No matter where you lie on the turning spectrum, our 360-degree guide to pirouettes will help you improve.
One of the most beautiful things social media has brought us is the ability to feel like we're up close and personal behind-the-scenes with all our favorite dancers. And one of our favorite stars to Insta-stalk are actually two casts of 36 scintillatingly synchronized precision dancers. I'm talking, of course, about my mild obsession with the legendary Radio City Rockettes.
Have we mentioned lately how much we love dance dads? Especially ones who show up to their daughter's ballet class sporting a tutu, like Thanh Tran.
You've seen it a million times: A glamorous, toned dancer posts a perfectly styled shot of her colorful smoothie bowl. The caption gushes about how great you'll feel if you eat "clean"—but what does that actually mean? DS asked registered dietitian/nutritionist Rachel Fine and holistic health coach (and founder of The Whole Dancer) Jess Spinner for all of the dirt.
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com a chance to be featured!
I'm being bullied by one of the girls at my studio, and it's awful. I've talked to my dance teacher and confronted the bully directly, but it hasn't made a difference. What should I do?