Eva Burton (center) in Oregon Ballet Theatre's George Balanchine's The Nutracker. James McGrew, Courtesy OBT.

Nutcracker Survival Tips: 6 Pros on Making It Through the Holiday Marathon

Six pros reveal their most creative tricks for making it through everyone's favorite holiday marathon.



Alana Griffith: Artist, Milwaukee Ballet

Griffith in rehearsal for Milwaukee Ballet's "Waltz of the Flowers."

Timothy O'Donnell, Courtesy Milwaukee Ballet

Favorite role: Clara

"Clara was my first soloist role and the first role I did where my character danced through the entire ballet. I liked playing with different ways of making her sweet and lovable or bratty and funny. Switching from Clara to the corps to divertissements makes the rehearsal process exciting and challenging."

Number of Nutcrackers per season: 17–18

Pre-Warm-Up: "In the morning I take a hot bath for 5–7 minutes as a way to pre-warm my muscles before class."

Multitasking Tape: "If I have a quick change into pointe shoes, I rip a piece of soft, white tape off my toes and use it to hold my ribbons."

Conjuring Calm: "I take a homeopathic supplement called Quietude, which helps me wind down after a show."

Miranda Silveira: Corps de ballet, San Francisco Ballet

Silveira in rehearsal with SFB

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

Favorite role: Spanish

"It's a very energetic and dynamic part, and there's a lot of character dancing."

Number of Nutcrackers per season: approximately 33

Keep Toasty: "When I'm doing Maid or Party Parent in the Party Scene, I wear legwarmers under the long dress so I'm ready for Snow."

Warm Toes: "I stick my pointe shoes under the heater at the theater to warm them up."

Listen Closely: "Take advantage of the differences between each conductor by really listening to the changes in the music."

Eva Burton: Company artist, Oregon Ballet Theatre

Burton (center) in OBT's George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

James McGrew, Courtesy OBT

Favorite role: Sugar Plum Fairy

"I love that in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker, the Sugar Plum Fairy does her variation at the beginning of Act II surrounded by the angels. Sharing the stage with young students reminds me that every audience is full of children who are seeing ballet for the first time."

Number of Nutcrackers per season: 15–19

Time Your Hydration: "I drink water well before the show so I can stay focused but not have to go to the bathroom once I'm in costume."

Pointe Shoe Prep: "I sew as many pointe shoes as possible before we even get to the theater."

Check Off Christmas Shopping: "I do all of my Christmas shopping before Nutcracker!"

Jennifer Grace: Demi-soloist, Tulsa Ballet

Grace in Tulsa Ballet's Snow scene

Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Favorite role: Maid of Honor, in "Waltz of the Flowers"

"In Marcello Angelini's Nutcracker, the Maid of Honor is partnered by four different cavaliers, and it flows together beautifully. I wouldn't say it's easy to dance, but it's very enjoyable."

Number of Nutcrackers per season: 8

Soup-er Food: "Soup is my go-to meal. It keeps you hydrated and makes you feel full, but you can still move."

Fresh-Faced: "I take my makeup off immediately after the show, wash my face as soon as I get home, and I don't put any makeup on until I have to, the next night, so my skin has a chance to breathe."

Salt Solutions: "Epsom salt baths help my muscles to recover from that feeling of lactic acid crunchiness."

Tiffany Mosher: Second soloist, National Ballet of Canada

Mosher performs Spanish Chocolate at NBoC

Cylia von Tiedemann, Courtesy NBoC

Favorite role: Bee, in "Waltz of the Flowers"

"Although it's an extremely difficult and tiring role with a lot of jumping and quick movements, the fast-paced choreography makes it a joy."

Number of Nutcrackers per season: 24

Get Rest: "We bring a blow-up mattress into the change room, to lie down between shows."

Be a Team Player: "I always volunteer to do a new spot if someone gets sick or injured. Everyone will go to the wings to watch, and if you make eye contact onstage it's fun!"

Balance Is Key: "Doing the same roles all the time works the same muscles. For example, the Snowflake choreography has a lot of quick footwork and relevés, so it's taxing on our calves and ankles. To balance that I do lunges and squats with weights to engage my hamstrings, quads and glutes."

Joshua Grant: Soloist, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Grant as Mother Ginger in PNB's George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Angela Sterling, Courtesy PNB

Favorite roles: Cavalier and Mother Ginger

"The Sugar Plum Fairy's Cavalier is the most rewarding role because of the beautiful music, and Mother Ginger is an all-out hoot to perform."

Number of Nutcrackers per season: approximately 35

Natural Skin Care: "Coconut oil is an all-natural way to moisturize your skin. It doesn't have to be refrigerated, so you can keep it in your makeup case."

Advance Check-In: "I always check in with my partner before a pas de deux. Maybe my shoulder hurts that day or her shoes are more dead than usual."

Hit Refresh: "It helps to step out of the theater, even if it's just for lunch or coffee, especially on double show days."

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Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

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Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami City Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

Juha Mustonen, Courtesy Finnish National Ballet

Val Caniparoli Pulled Zoom All-Nighters For His Upcoming Premiere at Finnish National Ballet

Back in April, it seemed like everyone in the performing arts was either coping with company shutdowns or watching future work evaporate before their eyes. As seasons were canceled or pushed off into the unknown future, choreographer Val Caniparoli took a deep breath and focused on a glimmer of hope: Finnish National Ballet had commissioned him to develop a full-length Jekyll & Hyde, and was determined to move forward with its November world premiere. So, Caniparoli hunkered down in his apartment while honing his vision at all hours to build this psychological thriller into a reality.

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#TBT: Lucia Lacarra and Cyril Pierre in "Thaïs Pas De Deux" (2008)

When Sir Frederick Ashton premiered Thaïs Pas de Deux, a duet set to the "Méditation" interlude from Jules Massenet's opera Thaïs, the ballet was immediately acclaimed as one of his masterpieces, despite the fact that it is only a few minutes long. In this clip from 2008, Lucia Lacarra and Cyril Pierre, then principals of the Bavarian State Ballet, give a tender, enchanting performance that is six-and-a-half minutes of pure beauty.

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