by Apprentice Dancer Justin Genna
Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker is my first featured role at Milwaukee Ballet. I hadn’t thought about it that way until someone brought it up. I guess I’ve been too busy learning the new choreography to worry about it. Everyone’s been really supportive working with me in the new role. They’re jumping in and telling me how the scene works and different ways other dancers have approached the role. I think having a new dancer in a role helps reinvent the show for them too.
That’s probably why Michael Pink is always putting younger dancers in larger roles in The Nutcracker. It keeps everything fresh for everyone. This is also my first time doing Arabian, so now I’ve done every role in The Nutcracker.
Like most dancers, The Nutcracker is what inspired me to go into this career. When I was young some family friends took me to see it. After the snow scene the lights went up for intermission and I just started bawling my eyes out shouting “It can’t be over! It can’t be over!”. That night I told my mom that’s what I wanted to do with my life. She enrolled me in classes the following week.
I’ve always had the encouragement of my family. There’s usually somebody at every show. I’m from Madison, so it's awesome to have that support group so close. I especially love it when my little sister comes. She thinks it’s the coolest thing ever to watch me do a show.
If I had to pick a favorite scene in Michael Pink’s version of The Nutcracker, it would be the party scene. Michael Pink loves the acting and theatrical bit of the ballet, and he makes that scene so real. I dig the whole dysfunctional family aspect of it. You see the kids goofing off and the parents trying to keep them under control while entertaining their guests. And then you see them sneak away from the party to take a break from everyone. I’ve totally been at that party.
The Nutcracker is just a really special show. It never changes, but it's always reinventing itself. It's so familiar but yet every time you see it you notice something new. Even me. I can watch a run-through of the show and notice new things and still be thoroughly entertained. It's just that good.