For ballet dancers, Christmastime means The Nutcracker—and endless weeks of rehearsals and performances. By the time the New Year arrives, we can stand to wait 10 more months for the next round to begin. But despite its relentless repetition, The Nutcracker remains near and dear to many dancers' hearts, with familiar moments sparking memories of childhood.
Without the dedication of dozens of technical crew members at each and every performance, ballet companies would be performing on bare, empty stages under flourescent lighting. Creating props, scenery, lighting and costumes for a performance is a huge undertaking, but the tech crew's work isn't done once the lighting is designed and the costumes are sewn. All of those materials have to be carefully transported to the theater, and the process of loading-in—setting everything up in the space—can take hours.
It's news that, as a New Yorker, I am selfishly sad to report: American Ballet Theatre has announced that its The Nutcracker, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky, will move to the west coast in 2015. Its last New York performance will be this December at the Brooklyn Academy of Music before it calls the Segerstom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, "home." Ratmansky's production premiered in 2010 and received instant praise for its fine use of students and quick wit.
For all of the endless groaning that goes on backstage during Nutcracker season, the holiday warhorse brings many benefits for the ballet world. Aside from the influx of revenue for companies and opportunities for dancers, Nutcracker also often gives audiences a chance to see top-notch guest artists from all over the world. Here are just a few of the exciting guests scheduled to perform this December—leave others you know about in the comments.
Last Sunday and Monday, I had the opportunity to perform in Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum. It was so much fun! Before the performance, there was a company class with ABT that I got to take--and wow, the company dancers are soooo good. It was amazing to be in the same class with them.