Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas is coming...

Today is my day on the Virtual Advent Tour. Last year I decided to tell everyone about my family's tradition of going to see the Christmas Revels every December. Of course we're going again this year, and for anyone who's curious, this year's theme (at least for the Puget Sound Revels) is Victorian England which should be a lot of fun. However, the Revels is not what I wanted to share with you this year.

This year, I wanted to talk about The Nutcracker. I am big fan of ballet, having taken lessons from age 5 to 18. I stopped after I graduated high school, and while I don't do it anymore I still love watching. During my years of dancing, I performed in the Nutcracker 5 times, once when I was little and during all four years of high school. I've performed as a gumdrop, a flower, a snowflake (three times), a Russian, a Chinese, a Spanish, and even the Rat King. Of the four scenes in the show, the only one I never danced in was the party scene. The dance everyone seems to know and like the best is the Russian Dance, so here's a video (definitely not of me).
   
 One thing I've always loved about ballet is the tradition of it. By that, I mean, while you can go and see new pieces being performed all the time by professional companies, there are some things that are always the same. If you go see Swan Lake or Giselle, there are certain famous pieces where they choreography has remained practically unchanged from the original choreography. The Nutcracker is the same, there are certain traditions I really like. I like that Mother Ginger (or Marshmallow) is most of the time played by a man and she runs around stage trying to keep her little babies hidden under her skirts. I especially like the four "country dances" and seeing those countries represented in costume. Sadly...I live in Seattle. And while we have a wonderful ballet company with a world famous Nutcracker, partly due to the fact that the sets including a huge animatronic Rat King were designed by Maurice Sendak (of Where the Wild Things Are), it's not The Nutcracker I know and love. The music is out of order, the country dances are interpreted very weirdly, and they don't even have a Sugar Plum Fairy. But that is okay because other people love it and it's adding to their Christmases just like it added to mine.

    
 Last thing I want to mention. The Nutcracker will always make me think of Christmas. I love hearing the music, I love the story (even though my sister, the librarian, likes to tell me how wrong the ballet is when compared to the actual story by ETA Hoffmann), but it has a specail place in my heart for another reason. December 5, 1999 was closing night of my first year dancing the Nutcracker with the studio I danced with during 
high school. I was a freshman in high school and wasn't part of the company yet (those were the advanced dancers), but would be within the next year. I sort of knew this one girl (Betty) who was part of the company. We went to rival schools, and from the little we knew of each other we didn't like each other much. We had dressing areas that were next to each other backstage, so this last night of the Nutcracker we finally ended up talking to each other. Now here it is, December 5, 2010, and though she lives in Hollywood now and I'm in still in Seattle, I just got a text message from my best friend wishing me a happy 11 year anniversary. Here we are in the picture...apparently we're saving the environment.

9 comments:

sprite said...

What an awesome conclusion to your post. I'm a little weepy just reading it!

Oh said...

Enjoyed this and watched the video of the russian dance, of course. How I adore the music of the Nutcracker and the story. Nope I'm not a dancer but always open for a story, whether it's told through dance, music, spoken, told aroudn a campfire or waiting on the page for me to find it.

Loved this.
Hope you're having a brilliant holiday in Seattle. My hubs just returned from there,having spent the week with Microsoft. I have yet to visit your fair city but he was enamored in many ways.

Happy holidays!

Krissi said...

I agree that the nutcracker music congers up pictures of Christmas. What a wonderful experience to dance in the nutcracker and to carry those memories. Thank you for your post.

GeraniumCat said...

I was listening to a radio programme about the Nutcracker music earlier, and thinking how lovely it was and how much I'd like to see it this Christmas, so I enjoyed your post. The PNB production looks wonderful - I think with different choreographies you just have to pretend it's a completely different ballet and not compare, but I do agree you want the familiar one at Christmas!

Jan said...

Yes! The nutcracker and christmas go hand in hand. I think it may be showing at our little theatre here this year. How lovely that you have these memories of actually dancing in this ballet!

Caroline said...

I like ballett too and used to dance as well but more modern dance. Enjoyed the video and your story is so nice. It is so wonderful how we sometimes meet our best friends.

Chrisbookarama said...

Great memories! Thanks for sharing them.

Kailana said...

This was a fun post! Thanks for sharing! Happy Holidays and thanks for joining in!

Veronica said...

Sorry for taking so long to respond (finals, you know...)but thanks for all the lovely comments. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!