New York City Ballet principals Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy New York City Ballet.

Our Best Tips: All About The Sugar Plum Fairy

She's regal, yet kind. Approachable yet commanding. Delicate yet firm. Clara may be the heart of Nutcracker, but the Sugar Plum Fairy is its soul, with her sparkling, queenly dancing. In most versions of the ballet, we sit through nearly the whole thing just to see her. This year, whether you're dancing the role, cheering on a friend from backstage or taking notes on your company's guest artists, really familiarize yourself with everyone's favorite fairy.

1. Even though Lev Ivanov's original choreography shows up in most Sugar Plum Fairy variations, there are countless versions of Nutcracker and just as many motivations for Sugar Plum's dancing. Make sure you understand the "why," along with the "how," of your character's choreography before setting foot onstage.

2. Guesting as a Sugar Plum Fairy can be artistically and financially rewarding—and riddled with problems. Brush up on your business savvy before signing any contracts.


3.We'll say it again: Even professionals get nervous before performing. New York City Ballet soloist Ashley Laracey reflected on the pressures of her Sugar Plum debut.

4. Not only is the music stunning, the costume is to-die-for. Here's a roundup of our favorite Sugar Plum tutus from Nutcracker productions around the world.

5. Royal Ballet principal Lauren Cuthbertson preps for the role, offering insight into the hard work that goes into every step, even after your umpteenth Nutcracker entrance.

Merde for the rest of your season!

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