By Artist Dancer Jennifer Grapes
This year The Nutcracker has a very special meaning for me. My nine-year-old son, Jeremiah, is going to experience this ballet phenomenon for the first time on Saturday night. He has of course grown up watching me dance but this weekend will be his very first live performance of The Nutcracker. For a young boy, going to the ballet is not usually at the top of the list, but when it involves a growing Christmas tree, a magician, a battle with soldiers and a giant rat king it's hard not to admit that it might sort of be awesome. For the first time, he is on the edge of his seat to see a ballet. After performing in many student matinees by this point, I must admit that the enthusiasm of the children for this particular ballet still makes me smile every time. It's wonderful to see that this ballet continues to reach people of ALL ages and keeps the fire burning for ballet.
Although I have performed many different productions of The Nutcracker, I am excited and proud that this particular production will be my son's first. Artistic Director Michael Pink has taken the story and adapted it so perfectly that it's completely user friendly. Anyone can come and see this show (without reading a synopsis) and completely understand the story. It has an impeccable flow that builds from the very first note. It starts in the prologue where you get a glimpse of Drosselmeyer's workshop and there's a little foreshadowing of what is to come with the presence of the bumblebee under the sheet. If you come to see this show and pay very close attention, you will see and understand why this version is so satisfying and a delectable holiday treat.
I'm so proud to be a part of this magical production and I'm thrilled to finally share it with my little boy. There is not a doubt in my mind that he will fall in love with it (although I did promise him he could hold the rat king's sword) and anyone who has the opportunity to experience it will surely not be disappointed. They might even find themselves with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads--or if your're nine-years-old maybe a rat king.