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.
What's more daunting than getting into your dream college dance program? Figuring out how you'll cover the costs of tuition, room and board, incidental expenses and more. Here's the good news: The right scholarship(s) can bring your dream school well within reach.
Look Around, Look Around
Scholarship applications are due between the fall of senior year and graduation time, so familiarize yourself with funding opportunities during the spring of junior year. And there are a lot of opportunities out there, says Kate Walker, chair of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. "A lot of school guidance counselors now have software that automatically matches you with scholarships," she says.
Seek out scholarships on your own, too. According to Walker, "a lot of corporations are required to have some community engagement, including offering scholarships, so research corporations in your community." Your parents' employers might offer assistance too, says Doug Long, an academic and college counselor at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, MI. "They might have scholarships you can apply for just because your parent works there."
Other sources of grant money you won't have to pay back (as you would a loan)? The YoungArts Foundation; competitions/conventions, like New York City Dance Alliance; and the university or dance department you're applying to. Even some scholarships aimed at athletes are open to dancers!
A winning scholarship application involves a fair amount of paperwork, especially if the organization requires you to show financial need. In addition, certain scholarships ask for the College Board's CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which gives the awarding organization a more complete picture of your family finances.
Other ingredients of a successful scholarship application include recommendation letters, a dance and/or academic resumé and an essay or statement of purpose. Treat these components just like college applications: Have multiple trusted adults proofread your materials, and ask for recommendation letters or transcripts long before deadlines.
A note for non-dance scholarships: Including objective measures of achievement can only help you. "List national recognitions, like YoungArts or other competitions," says Long. "That shows the scholarship committees that people at high levels have acknowledged you as an artist of quality." And don't forget who your audience is. "Especially in writing samples, make sure you paint a vivid picture for your reader," Walker says. "Don't assume they know about all the things—like barre every day—that we as dancers take for granted."
No award amount is too small to be worth your time and effort. As Walker says, "Don't pooh-pooh a couple hundred dollars in award money, because any scholarship is funding that you didn't have yesterday."
A version of this story appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "All Aboard the Scholar-ship."
Every ballet dancer knows the time, sweat, and occasional tears the art form demands. But many non-dancers are clueless about just how much work a ballet dancer puts into perfecting his or her dancing. So when the mainstream crowd recognizes our crazy work ethic, we'll accept the round of applause any way it comes—even if it comes via four men in tutus. Yep, we're talking about "The Try Guys Try Ballet" video.
Remember that fabulous old-school clip of dancers tapping in pointe shoes that Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo brought to our attention back in March? As we mentioned then, toe-tap dancing was actually super popular back in the 1920s and 30s—which means there are more videos where that one came from. And because #ToeTapTuesday has a nice ring to it, we thought we'd take this opportunity to introduce you to Dick and Edith Barstow, a toe-tapping brother and sister duo from that era who are nothing short of incredible:
Guess who's back? Back again? The Academy's back! Tell a friend.
After one day at The Academy, the All Stars have successfully taken the Top 100 down to 62. But their work is just getting started: Now they need to keep narrowing the field to a Top 10, ultimately deciding who each will partner with during the live shows.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns is some SERIOUS #goals. Her strength and power onstage borders on superhuman. But what's extra magical about Mearns is that she really puts in the fitness and cross-training work outside of the rehearsal studio. And she's overcome her fair share of injuries. Which is why she was the perfect source for Vogue's latest ballet fitness story.