I spent another hour and 20 minutes watching a Barbie movie so you don't have to. You're welcome. (Getty Images/LoulouVonGlup)

80 Thoughts I Had Rewatching "Barbie in the Nutcracker" as an Adult

One Christmas, my older brother and I got into an old-fashioned sibling argument because I wanted to see our local ballet company perform The Nutcracker . My brother argued that he couldn't follow the plot of The Nutcracker past Act One. I explained that there basically *isn't* a plot past Act One. (And in a little sister victory, we saw The Nutcracker.)

So for anyone making a film adaptation of this holiday ballet, one question emerges: How do you make a whole movie out of a ballet that wraps up its central conflict (and any semblance of a plot) before the curtains close on Act One?

Barbie in the Nutcracker figured something out, and the result is *more* than a Christmas movie. It transcends the label. I remember loving this movie and watching it year-round, but my recollection of film itself is hazy. Here are my unfiltered reactions as I re-watch the Barbie ballet movie that started it all.


1. Universal Studios made this film? That's a bigger name than I expected for a direct to home video release.

2. Using the overture as the opening credits sequence is an inspired choice. We're off to a strong start.

3. Peter Martins choreographed this one, too?? I don't appreciate having my childhood movies associated with that guy. Nope, no thanks, get out.

4. We're already seeing one of the biggest Barbie ballet offenses in action: Pointe Shoe Ribbons Tied Up To The Knees.

5. Another Barbie movie, another frame narrative. This time, Barbie is giving her young student, Kelly, a private lesson.

6. One of my former teachers would remind us to not have "Barbie hands" during ballet when she wanted us to separate our fingers. I'd say Barbie has a bad case of the Barbie hands.

7. Why does Barbie keep switching which foot is in front during her bourrées, and why doesn't Barbie stop dancing and give Kelly corrections when she gets frustrated? I'm not convinced of Barbie's pedagogical skills here.

8. THE STUDIO HAS A BOOMBOX. I love it here in 2001.

9. Kelly is rehearsing for a performance and is afraid of forgetting her choreo onstage, so Barbie tells her to find the courage to try, "just like Clara." Off we go into the main story.

10. Why is Clara an orphan in this version, and why is Fritz named Tommy? This raises so many more questions than it answers.

11. If the plot of this movie is not explaining the mysterious deaths of Clara's parents, I'm going to be disappointed.

12. Getting some major "Downton Abbey" vibes from this house, the clothing, and the decorations.

13. Okay, the plot thickens. Clara puts her ballerina Christmas ornament on the tree, and when the maid asks her about it, Clara says it was a gift from her mother. Then the maid makes a *very suspicious* face and walks off without saying anything! Does the maid know something? Was foul play to blame for the deaths of Clara and Tommy's parents?

14. Also, how can they decorate with fully edible gingerbread and then act surprised when they have mice?

15. This family tree makes no sense. Clara and Tommy are in the care of their Grandfather Drosselmeyer, but their Aunt Drosselmeyer is also their Grandfather's niece? How can that be? Where do the lies end with this family? What happened to Clara's parents?

@likeangels

Reply to @donavenegas They did use ##motioncapture 🥰👏🏽 It’s so cool to see how they made ##barbie dance!! ##barbiemovies ##ballet ##thenutcracker ##barbi

♬ original sound - Like Angels

16. Grandfather Drosselmeyer is kind of a stick in the mud in this adaptation, compared to the eccentric godfather from the ballet.

17. Oh, I see, Grandfather Drosselmeyer is strict and boring so that Cool Aunt Drosselmeyer can be the one to bring Clara the Nutcracker from her adventures abroad.

18. Call him whatever name you want; Clara's brother is always a jealous brat.

19. Wait, Clara's brother breaks the Nutcracker before the party, and then we cut straight to Clara asleep by the Christmas tree? Why did we just skip the entire party scene?

20. Some unspecified golden sparkles fly out of the mouse hole in the wall and wake up the Nutcracker, who immediately goes to fight the mouse army. Clara decides she's dreaming and just rolls with it.

21. I'm a little disappointed that the Mouse King only has one head, TBH.

22. Since Clara is still full-sized at this point, she goes to capture the Mouse King under a vase but he shrinks her before she can finish the job. Maybe if she had kept the element of surprise instead of going for the one-liner. Now you have a whole new set of problems, Clara.

23. The mouse army might as well be Stormtroopers for how good they are at fighting.

24. Tiny Clara, on the other hand (foot?) is able to completely bean the Mouse King with her shoe from her precarious spot dangling from the Christmas garland.

25. Again with the seemingly arbitrary name changes. Why do we have a Sugar Plum Princess instead of the Sugar Plum Fairy?

26. "You mean, you used to be…?" "Yes, not a nutcracker." Oh, sure. No further questions.

27. Now we have a quest! The owl from the top of the clock flies down to inform Clara and the Nutcracker where they can find the Sugar Plum Princess. The owl also takes a miniature-but-now-appropriately-sized locket off Clara's ballerina ornament and tells her that once they find the princess Clara can open the locket to return home.

28. The real question is, how long was this very important magical locket just chilling on the ornament? Barbie movies love them some enchanted jewelry.

29. Clara and the Nutcracker (he must have had a name before he became a Nutcracker?) fall into the magic portal Alice in Wonderland style and land in a frozen cave. The snow fairies come out to dance and help them find a way out, set to the iconic snow scene music of course.

30. This scene might explain why the snow scene has always been my favorite part of The Nutcracker.

31. I guess we'll find out later why flowers grow through the snow in Clara's footsteps.

32. Hold up, I recognize the Mouse King's voice. It's Tim Curry??

33. Sorry, I can't even keep up with this plot right now, I'm too busy thinking about how Dr. Frank-N-Furter/Nigel Thornberry is the Mouse King.

34. Okay, where were we? Finding a horse, of course. Every Barbie movie has to have a horse, and this one is no exception.

35. Marzipan the horse is even bright pink and has her own sleigh. With Marzipan we also pick up a gingerbread boy and a peppermint girl. (Sell those dolls, Mattel!)

36. These kids really resent Prince Eric, the crown prince who's gone missing and allowed the Mouse King to take over. Don't mind the guilty expression all over the Nutcracker's giant wooden face.

37. So Clara and her squad are narrowly saved from more Stormtroopers—I mean mice—by the anti-mouse resistance leaders Major Mint and Captain Candy.

38. "You're telling me the Nutcracker, a wooden utensil, managed to escape a well-armed fighting squadron unharmed?" The dialogue in this movie is unironically funny.

39. The Mouse King transformed a pillar from his throne room into a rock monster and sends it along with his bat sidekick to find Clara and the Nutcracker.

40. "You're more than a Nutcracker...Prince Eric." Clara's out here seeing right through Prince Eric's *wooden* acting. (I'll see myself out.)

41. Clara decides to keep Prince Eric's secret, for now.

42. So now we're leaving behind the peppermint girl and gingerbread boy in favor of Major Mint and Captain Candy? Why did the kids need to exist as characters at all? Oh right, to sell more dolls.

43. So far, this movie makes zero sense as an adaptation of the ballet, but as a kids film? I'm loving it.

44. In another thinly veiled opportunity for more dancing fairies/dolls to market, Clara and the Nutcracker free some flower fairies from a well. The fairies proceed to fly around to "Waltz of the Flowers" and make all the plants grow.

45. And just when Clara and the Nutcracker are about to join in the waltz—GIANT ROCK MONSTER.

@likeangels

Reply to @emilou041 It really did 😂👏🏽 The dancing was insane 🥰🙏🏼 ##barbie ##barbiemovies ##nutcracker ##nutcrackerballet ##ballet ##ballerina ##dancing

♬ original sound - Like Angels

46. The rock monster actually reminds me of the giant snow monster from Frozen. Sorry Disney, Barbie did it first.

47. I'm living for the sheer 2001-ness of the animation, like when Marzipan pulls the sleigh by so #TeamNutcracker can escape and there are no hoof prints or treads from the sleigh left behind in the snow.

48. Also, where the heck did Marzipan come from?

49. The Nut-Vengers narrowly escape the rock monster after the Nutcracker cracks the ice to sink it in the frozen sea.

50. Finally, the gang arrives at the mystical island where they hope to find the Sugar Plum Princess. The giant pink castle looks pretty 2-D, but it's probably the old-school animation again.

51. In a TWIST, the castle looked flat because it was a fake castle, set up by the Mouse King's bat henchman (henchbat?) to capture #TeamNutcracker. Everyone but Clara is flown by bat to the Mouse King's lair, and now Clara's stranded because all of the magical ice has suddenly melted.

52. But there's no problem some fairies can't solve. Thankfully, the flower fairies are back and they can fly Clara all the way to rescue her friends.

53. And the remaining fairies fly back to where gingerbread boy and peppermint girl are waiting with the townspeople, to mobilize them against the Mouse King!

54. In a severely dark turn of events for a kids' movie, Clara discovers that the Mouse King plans to burn the Nutcracker alive, in front of all the villagers.

55. Clara manages to find and free the rest of the Nut-Vengers in time for Prince Eric to confront the Mouse King.

56. This Nutcracker-vs-Mouse King face-off makes me wonder why the Mouse King decided to transform his rival Prince Eric into something with a sword, instead of literally anything else. You really set yourself up for this problem, Mouse King.

57. And we've circled right back to a redux of the movie's first fight scene. Mouse King knocks down Nutcracker, Clara stands up to Mouse King, Mouse King goes to shrink Clara yet again…

58. But this time, the Nutcracker deflects the Mouse King's spell with his sword! The Mouse King shrinks down to the size of an in-universe mouse and runs off into the sewer. Good riddance.

59. And with a kiss on the wooden cheek, Clara transforms the Nutcracker back into a prince.

60. So, what was all that about a Sugar Plum Princess? Of course, it was Clara all along!

61. And Clara's nightgown transforms into a beautiful pink tutu. I remember having this Barbie doll and absolutely loving her, even if her pointe shoe ribbons went up to her knees and her plastic hips had no turnout.

62. With the castle and everyone in it restored to their pre-mouse glory, it's time to celebrate!

63. As an homage to Act Two of the original ballet, we now have all the characters dancing for Clara to say thank you.

64. How do animated dancers manage to be so off the music?

65. Major Mint has some serious height on those jumps, and Captain Candy is killing it with his...coffee grinder? Okay sure, it's a ballet + breaking mashup. Maybe Captain Candy is hoping for a spot in the 2024 Olympics.

66. Now the moment we've been waiting for: The Sugarplum Pas de Deux.

67. Clara, after saving the world and without stretching, immediately hits that 180-degree penché no problem.

68. That was a nice tour jeté, Prince Eric! The animated dancing in this version might actually be better than Barbie in Swan Lake.

69. Naturally, Clara's long blonde curls never seem to fly into her face while she's dancing.

70. After all that, Prince Eric asks Clara to stay and be his queen and she accepts.

71. But wait, what's that in the sky? The still-miniature Mouse King is back, riding his bat by Clara and stealing her magic necklace!

72. The peppermint girl knocks them both out of the sky with a well-placed snowball, but it's too late: The locket has been opened and Clara fades back into her own world.

73. Clara wakes up by the tree where she fell asleep, without the Nutcracker and without her necklace. Understandably, she flips out and starts ranting to Grandfather Drosselmeyer and Tommy about mouse wars and magic scepters.

74. Before Grandfather Drosselmeyer calls a doctor on Clara, here comes Cool Aunt Drosselmeyer with...Prince Eric?

75. Aunt Drosselmeyer introduces Eric as the son of a friend and quickly clears Tommy and Grandfather Drosselmeyer out of the room. But is this Eric the same Prince Eric that used to be the Nutcracker?

76. Well, he just handed Clara her necklace, so it's looking like he must be? How is he here with Clara in her world?

77. At least they get to finish their dance. But what are the political ramifications of Eric leaving his country again? Wasn't his absence what allowed the Mouse King to seize power in the first place?

78. I guess those questions (and so many more!) will remain unanswered because now we're back in the studio with Barbie and Kelly.

79. Kelly was inspired by Clara's bravery and is ready to try her solo again.

80. Yay, Kelly remembered the choreo! Don't worry about the continued political unrest in the Nutcracker's kingdom and how his absence will inevitably leave an opportunity for another evil dictator to take over. Honestly, I was hoping for a post-credits scene that never came. Let's hope Major Mint and Captain Candy can hold down the fort while Eric is off dancing with Clara...¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Because all dancers have experienced it at some point or another (Getty Images/patat)

How Dancers Can Beat Zoom Fatigue

Now that we're more than nine months into the pandemic, there's a big chance you're feeling Zoom-ed out. Read: Totally overusing the video-conferencing app for school and dance classes—and everything else. And according to dance/movement therapist Erica Hornthal, MA, LCPC, BC-DMT, there's good reason for that: "Managing your environment in a virtual space is taxing on the mind, and therefore taxing on the body."

Hornthal attributes these feelings, in part, to a mind–body disconnect that happens when we use the app: Your body knows you are alone in the room, but your mind sees a group of people on screen—and managing this COVID-era reality can be, well, exhausting. But we can also feel Zoom fatigue, Hornthal says, from having to "constantly be present to the third 'person' in the room: the Zoom camera." Uh, relatable!

So if staring at a grid of fuzzy faces—or into the abyss of that cold, dark lens on your device—has you feeling less than energized, here are some ways to cope.


Take breaks from tech throughout the day

Tamia Strickland, a sophomore in the Ailey/Fordham BFA dance program, trains both in person (with a mask, of course!) and online but says there are unique challenges that come with the latter. For one, she says, it's hard "to stay focused and motivated when you are in your basement or living room staring at a computer screen all by yourself—and all day long." These feelings can lead to frustration: You want to stay engaged with the class, but after staring at your computer screen for so long, you start to feel unmotivated.

As a remedy, Hornthal suggests taking breaks from your tech devices when you can. "The last thing you want to do," she says, "is exit a Zoom session and then immediately jump onto your phone." Instead, take a breather from everything virtual, and give your mind—and body—time to recalibrate. "Create space to connect or reconnect with your body when you are off technology," Hornthal says. "Take a walk, practice mindful breathing, embrace nature."

Move for yourself—and on your own

Another way to overcome feelings of online-class fatigue, Hornthal says, is to find time to move on your own—away from the camera on your device. As you begin moving for yourself, try to recognize and notice your own body wisdom. As a dancer, this could simply mean taking stock of what feels good and natural to your body as you, say, indulge in an improv sesh.

Tim Roberts, a Maryland dance studio owner and former performer, says giving his students time to turn their cameras off and work through their own movement has helped keep them motivated. "Opening that space for them is so necessary­ and beneficial, and helps them appreciate the time they do have with me," he says.

If you're not feeling up to a movement break, consider cooling down the mind and body by taking some time to stretch out and take up space in the body, Hornthal says. By encouraging greater body awareness, stretching can help give you more insight into what your body needs at any given point—a physical check-in before you head back into The Land of Zoom.

Tap into your other senses

When you're on Zoom, you're constantly using your eyes—to learn choreography, to support fellow dancers, to catch physical cues from teachers—so it's important, Hornthal says, to give yourself screen breaks. As you give your eyes a rest, take time to whet your other senses: Squeeze a stress ball; smell the outside air; gulp a tasty green smoothie; listen to your favorite playlist. The key here is to take in stimuli that trigger your other senses, rather than continuing to use (or overuse) your sense of sight.

And as a golden rule for your overall Zoom-life health, always remember: "It isn't just dance that is happening online—our entire lives are virtual," Hornthal says. "That means we have to be intentional with our downtime, and turn off technology, so we can tune in to ourselves."

Because honestly, what could be better than dancing alongside your mom? (Getty Images/undrey)

How You Can Support the Beginner Dancer in Your Life

Plenty of us have been dancing since we were teeny-tiny tappers and trinas, but walking into a dance class as an older beginner can be seriously intimidating. Luckily, one silver lining of the pandemic is that it's easier than ever to try out a two-step without even stepping into the studio—virtual classes seem to be everywhere we click nowadays.

Is one of your friends, siblings, parents, or grandparents interested in starting to dance, but totally unsure about where to begin? As the resident dancer in their lives, there are plenty of ways for you to encourage them. Here are just a few of the ways to support the newest dancer in your life.


Roll Out the Recommendations

The pandemic has opened up a whole new world of dance classes that you can stream right into your living room. By now, you're probably a seasoned Zoom dance pro. So start by asking your aspiring dancer what their goals are. Are they looking to just become more active? Study a specific genre of dance? Find a new creative outlet? Take that info and help them narrow down what kinds of virtual classes they might enjoy. Then, recommend some studios you know and love.

Be sure to give your friend or relative an impression of what to expect from their virtual class. Don't forget to offer Zoom-specific tips, like where to place their camera, or how to rearrange their furniture to provide enough space for class. And if they're nervous (or don't want the pressure of being on camera for their first few classes), let them know it's okay to leave their camera off until they're ready to try class with it on. After all, if Hugh Jackman can do it, so can they

Join Their Journey

Maybe you'd also like to broaden your dance horizons, or your friend is looking for an accountability partner. Try taking a beginner level class with your friend in a style you're unfamiliar with. Plenty of studios offer workshops for beginning dancers in a variety of styles, like Broadway Dance Center's Absolute Beginner Workshop seriesAbsolute Beginner Workshop series, which offers a series in every genre from ballet to street jazz.

Another option is to find a dance class video on YouTube, like Kathryn Morgan's at-home class series, and take it at the same time over a Zoom call by sharing your screen. That way, you can pause the video if you need to answer a question from your friend. (And try your best to remain calm when they ask you, for the fifth time, what "plié" means.)

Cheer Them Through Challenges

Most importantly, be there to support your friend or relative in their new dance journey. You know that there can be bumps along the road, but you also know that nothing compares to the feeling of nailing a hard combo, or accomplishing your next dance goal. The newest dancer in your life has all those milestones to look forward to along the way. Don't let them get discouraged when it's difficult —and help them celebrate their accomplishments, big or small.

Photo by Anaiah Simons, courtesy Taylor Jade Edgin

How Dance Helped Me Achieve Success in My Nondance Career Path

Like most kids, by the age of 4 I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up…a dancer. And sure, every kid picks a career to play along with—doctor, veterinarian, princess. But from that young age of 4, I was determined to turn my dream into a reality.

I spent my adolescent years in multiple dance companies, training to make the move to L.A. And then I got it: glimpses of my big break. I began working for and with the choreographers on my bucket list, got accepted into dance companies I'd tirelessly watch on YouTube, and even made it on that national commercial that my friends, family (and don't forget the frenemies!) got to see on repeat.

But then, suddenly, I felt a shift. Was I, the dancer who spent 18 years of blood, sweat and tears (and a crap ton of money) getting burnt out from the everyday hustle of my industry?

If I'm being honest, I always felt like the odd one out in my profession. It took me about four years of paying my dues in L.A. to realize that everything that was different about myself—and my mind—would serve as the catapult towards my new career path as a creative director.


Just Outside of Dance

While grappling with my sudden change of desire, I reflected on where it all started. I remembered being 10 years old, listening to the Black Eyed Peas' Elephunk album in the car, closing my eyes and visualizing a whole music video in my head. And while I thought that meant I would just be the choreographer or the dancer performing in the video, I never realized it might also mean I could be the person to bring the music video to life.

I flashed back to my various experiences on set as a dancer. I remembered how I always took interest in communicating with other departments and learning about their industries, and realized that it's OK to pursue creative endeavors beyond dance. I also paid close attention to how I was treated on set as "talent," taking all the things I learned and didn't like into deep consideration.

Growing Into the Role

Opening my mind allowed for a lot of fun opportunities, like the time I got to star as the lead in a music video that I was also hired to choreograph and direct, or when I started working with my teenage idol and mentor D-Trix, who taught me how to simultaneously choreograph and direct a piece for the camera. Combining my passions just felt right, but the coolest part about developing my knowledge as a creative director was that I got to do it in spaces I was already familiar with. Creating in the dance industry without actually dancing helped me discover that even though I'm focused on this new, creative role, I can still maintain my deep connection with dance.

I've spent the last four years continuing down the creative-direction path, developing artists, producing music videos, and marketing for friends. A favorite moment for me was working with Nya Bloom, a friend and upcoming artist who I convinced not only to create a short film for his first project, but also to hire me as a director.

After six months of brainstorming together, we pitched our ideas to an investor who loved them and granted us a budget. From there, I was hired as set designer, choreographer, stylist and director for the project, which granted me the opportunity to hire all my friends, from dancers and actors to DP and editors. We paid everyone their full rates and ran our production in succinct timing, wrapping everyone 30 to 60 minutes earlier than planned.

I was ecstatic to use all my skills from previous jobs as a dancer on set, and everything I had observed from my previous experiences, to put my skills to the test and produce a visual that turned out even better than we could've imagined.

Edgin getting comfortable in the directors' seat (Avo Guedekelian, courtesy Edgin)

Dancing to My Own Beat

I pride myself in not underpaying or overworking dancers and (subtly) brag about being the person to book you for a 12-hour day, release you ahead of schedule, and still pay you your full day rate. It's really important to me, as someone who has been in the positions I'm now hiring for, to make sure the talent is as comfortable and happy as possible.

As I've gained more experience in my role as a creative director and taking on artist development, I've realized that having a dance background made finding success in these nondancing roles so much easier. So, whether you choose to join a prestigious company as a full-time dancer or become a freelance creative director who dances whenever they feel like it, just know that dance is a tool that can help you achieve success in spaces you may have never imagined.

I'm so grateful for my now 21 years of dance experience for introducing me to my true calling in life. There was never a moment wasted, and I can dance to the beat of my own drum now.

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