From then on, like for many dancers, performing in the Nutcracker became an annual tradition. It was always wonderful to finally get that part you had wanted for so many years and practically already knew from either understudying or watching it. Many a slumber party was spent with friends discussing who we thought would get what part the following year and certain parts became a right of passage.
Being passed up for the coveted roll of Clara as a younger dancer, I was thrilled to dance the roll my Senior year of high school in a version where Clara is magically transformed into the Sugar Plum Fairy in the second act. I remember taking the role very seriously and spent hours studying the version with Gelsey Kirkland for acting tips. For me the responsibility of Clara was to take the audience back to a time of childish wonder as they experience her magical journey. I had three more opportunities to dance the roll while dancing with the Ballet Theatre of Maryland and the picture above is from my final performance in 2006. With me is Bryan Skates who is probably one of the most skilled and knowledgeable partners I have ever had the privilege of working with.
I hope everyone finds a way to tap into their own childish wonder this Holiday Season!