Sugar Plum Dreams

So it's that time of year again... Nutcracker season. As for many of you, I'm sure, Nutcracker kind of epitomized the Christmas season for me growing up. I danced in my hometown ballet company's production from age 10 until I graduated from high school--and along the way I was an angel, a clown, a party girl, a soldier, Arabian corps, a Snowflake, in Waltz of the Flowers and finally, a Chinese soloist my senior year. By that point, I think I could do every part in the ballet, whether or not I had ever actually danced it! 

The Snow scene was always my favorite, and I was lucky enough to get to be in it each year of high school. In our production, the tutus were icy blue with white lace trimming on the bodice and the "snow" was little square scraps of white computer paper. (In fact, my elementary school, before I was even old enough to audition for Nutcracker, used to gather scrap paper and send it to the theater each fall, to be used as that year's "snow"!) Our Snow scene's choreography was probably fairly standard--lots of piqué turns, fluttery hands, saut de chats and temps de fleches to kick up the snow--but one part always stood out to me. Just before the music gets to that choral bit in the center (you know: ahh, ahh, ah ah ah! ahh, ahh, ah ah ah! hehehe...) the entire corps would rush onstage and weave in and around each other until, just when the voices came in, all of us chasséd into staggered lines and began a unison port de bras section. To go from multiple duets, trios and quartets fluttering around into, all of a sudden, 24 dancers filling the stage in unison--it felt magical. 

I retired my pointe shoes in college (thanks in part to an injury and in part to getting into modern dance!), but I would willingly strap them on again to do Snow one more time. Something about that music and the choreography, leaping, twirling and flying across the floor, makes me miss being a ballerina in a way that nothing else can. Most of the time, when I go to the ballet, I can sit back and just enjoy the beauty and power of what's happening onstage. When I see Snow--or even hear the music--I want to be dancing. 

What's your favorite part of Nutcracker? What roles are you dancing this year? I want to hear your stories! Let's chat on the message board. 

Happy Holidays to all of you! 

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