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Nutcracker Rehearsals Usher in the Holidays

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WASHINGTON BALLET NUTCRACKER
Steve Vaccariello/TWB

Ahhhh, it is that time once again. The average person will cringe at the sight of Christmas merchandise hitting the shelves and complain about the early onset of the season, "They're putting up Christmas stuff already!!??" For us at 455 Franklin Street it has been going on a while now. Yes, before Halloween, Nutcracker gets started, and I... LOVE IT!

I always enjoyed Nutcracker as a dancer. I got to be a ballerina, with a tutu and a crown and I got to spin and jump in a beautiful landscape of snow! I love the smell of the Opera House when I walk in for the first rehearsals in the theater. I don't know why, but it smells differently to me than at any other time in the season. Most people only enjoy a few days of Christmas, but we get at least a month! I never got tired of rehearsing Nutcracker and the Snow pas de deux. My favorite was the free for all after class onstage, when all of the couples who danced those roles would share the stage and run through at the same time. A stage full of sugarplums and Snow Queens! We would sometimes change partners just for fun. I will miss that; I almost preferred it to actually performing!

It's different for me now as I'm at the front of the room instead of in the middle, but I am finding that I like it just as much! We've started working on the corps of snow and flowers and every year new dancers join the fray. I particularly enjoy working with the students who will dance it, many of them for the first time. For the first few rehearsals, the girls are a bit wide eyed. It takes time to stop and slowly mark the steps and patterns which can be tricky, and for a while we have a lot of lost people looking around trying to figure out where they're supposed to go. When the shows are well under way, we'll look back at this time and marvel at how far the girls have come, but for now, the work of getting them there has begun.

Amidst all the Nutcracker we continue to prepare new works for the season. Ashley Page is currently here, and Mark Morris was here last week creating new works for us. We also continue to clean and polish other works as well. I've been working on Chris Wheeldon's Number Nine. It is, at times, quite diabolical to hear the music the way Chris does. It took me FOREVER to get a grip on it and once again I marvel at his craft. That he created this piece in nine days is a testament to his genius.

So, off we go into the end of the year, while visions of Sugarplums (and Snow Queens and Snow Kings and mice and on and on) dance in our heads!

Visit the Nutcracker Facebook page here.