How is it already the second week of December? My advent calendar is slowly emptying, snow has already fallen, Christmas markets are buzzing like always, and as the days tick towards the 25th (24th here in Germany), the music of the much-loved ballet ‘The Nutcracker’ is filling theatres all over the world and Karlsruhe is no exception. Tis’ the season to be jolly and what better way to get in the festive mood than dressing up as a snowflake and jumping out of giant presents.
We have been dancing Youri Vámos’s ‘The Nutcracker – A Christmas Story’ since the first year I joined the company. The storyline combines the original Nutcracker with Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. It was actually the first premier I experienced back in 2010. I had just graduated from the Royal Ballet School, and after performing my last Grand Defile with the school and a night celebrating with fellow classmates for the last time, I flew to Karlsruhe to spend a week with the company while they started learning the ballet.
I was so nervous to be stepping into this whole new experience, in a whole new country but thankful to have this week to get a feel for the place before I officially started after the summer break. At the end of the first day, I came back to the hotel in tired tears, questioning how I will ever get through the week after such a hard day. Luckily my mum was with me for support, and I was so grateful to have her there to console me. It turns out I could handle it and was just in need of a good nights sleep after not having slept much previously due to the excitement of graduating and travelling to my new job.
I actually had a great week, learning more choreography than I thought possible. Taking class with my new colleagues and teachers as well as learning the ballet from the lovely guest teacher Joyce Cuoco, made it a challenging yet encouraging week. I was so eager to soak up everything from everyone. Originally I was only first cast for Snowflakes, second cast for a Spanish girl and a Solo Waltz Couple and had to keep an eye on most characters in the street scenes.
After dancing a few shows of just snowflakes I was already on for Spanish and had to jump in for one of the girls in the waltz couples. This was my first chance dancing something out of the group so despite only having one rehearsal before the show I was determined to do it well. I have danced that role ever since.
Last season I got cast for the Christmas Fairy – a role I remember thinking was so beautiful when I first joined, looking up to the girls dancing it then, so I was very happy to have the opportunity to learn it. And I learnt how much fun it is to be a Christmas Fairy. A big wig and candles on my head, a magic wand in my hand and surrounded by happy children. It is probably one of my favourite roles to dance so I can’t wait to be back in that sparkly dress this Christmas.
However, this season is no different and am learning a new role in the ballet, The Arabian pas de deux, another beautiful and enjoyable dance. With rehearsals in progress, it is another chance to become a different character bringing new experiences and learning opportunities, keeping this Christmas interesting.
I am so grateful to have danced many different roles in The Nutcracker, allowing me to grow with the ballet. It has always been part of my professional career and always part of my Christmases. I am truly excited to start this season’s Nutcrackers and to get into the Christmas mood both on stage and off.
I hope all of you are starting to feel jolly and maybe this year a trip to the ballet can fill your December with falling snow and dancing Scrooges.
❝There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.❞
-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol