Ana Sophia Scheller is having one busy December: In between performances of New York City Ballet's Nutcracker, she'll jet set to Honolulu to dance Dew Drop and the Snow pas de deux in Ballet Hawaii's brand-new production. Choreographed by Septime Webre, this Nutcracker incorporates the history and culture of Hawaii, and features guest artists from NYCB and other companies. Pointe spoke with Scheller about her double dose of the holiday ballet.
What gives this Nutcracker its Hawaiian twist?
Septime's Nutcracker is set in Honolulu in 1858, during the area's first Christmas Eve party with the first Christmas tree. I think he hopes the audience will recognize a bit of themselves in the production. And you know the Snow Scene? It's set on a volcano in the big island of Hawaii.
Since you're dancing Dew Drop with two companies, is it tricky keeping the choreography straight?
I've already done the Balanchine version at New York City Ballet for, like, 12 years, so that's not a problem. But when I rehearse for Septime's production, I make sure I watch a video every time I go into rehearsal to remember the steps and choreography. Thankfully, I know the music already.
Who will be your partner for the Snow pas in Hawaii?
I'm performing with Nicolai Gorodiskii. He is from Ukraine, but he grew up in Argentina so we both speak the same language. And he is my boyfriend actually. It's our first Nutcracker together.
What's it been like working with Septime Webre?
He has good energy, and his choreography is very different from other stuff that I've done. If the music is slow, there are a million steps. I always keep moving.
Will you have any time to relax in Hawaii before you return?
[laughs] Not so much actually. The last performance is a matinee show, so the dancers from NYCB are flying back that same day. We perform and then we get on a place to New York.
You've been doing Nutcrackers for many years. How do you make it through such a long run?
The corps de ballet dancers have it the hardest. When I was in the corps at NYCB, we did more than 40 Nutcrackers. My first year I did probably 43 shows of Flowers and 2 of Dew Drop. When I did Dew Drop, I was like, 'Oh my god. I cannot believe I'm doing something different.' It was a special day. Once you're a soloist or principal, you don't dance every show, so it's exciting every time you go onstage.
Ballet Hawaii presents The Nutcracker Dec. 16-18 in Honolulu.