Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Visions of Sugar Plums... or Nightmares?

For many folks, going to see The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition. I often hear folks talk about it like it’s just not the Christmas season until they see The Nutcracker.

For many years, it was one of my traditions too. Not going to see it, mind you, dancing in it.

For six years of my life, September through early December was dominated by The Nutcracker. The rehearsals, the costume fittings, more rehearsals… oh, and the drama. My high school provided the corps de ballet for the state ballet company. Fifty teenagers with their usual melodrama inflated by casting decisions, endless rehearsals… mercy.

By the time I graduated, I was Nutcraker-ed out. Just the music was enough to send me into PTSD-like flashbacks, and with every shopping mall in America having the Sugar Plum pas de deux on an endless loop, I left more than one store screaming.

I couldn’t even watch Nutcracker. Not to brag, but I think the version my company did was one of the best I’ve ever seen, plus, it’s all tied up with memories of friends and performances and “that time when…”

And not all of those memories are good ones.

So, there was no way in hell I was going to pay good money to park myself in a theater and watch a performance that would most likely send me to the closest bar in need of a stiff drink and probably not measure up to my expectations anyway.

For someone who lived and breathed Nutcracker for three months of every year for six years, I’ve probably watched the Nutcracker maybe three times in the last twenty years.

But this year, we’re going to see if I’ve matured and outgrown my Nutcracker aversion. I’m chaperoning AC’s class trip to the Nutcracker this week. AC is thrilled, because she’s never seen it live. (I know, until you read the above paragraphs, I bet you thought I’d been dragging my child to the ballet every chance I had. Teenage trauma lingers longer than you’d think. Just ask the Playfriends about my weight issues… In comparison, my Nutcracker aversion is almost normal.)

I guess we’ll find out if time heals all wounds or if I need more therapy from Counselor Shelley.

So, is Nutcracker a part of your holiday tradition? What’s your favorite bit?


*** Notes on the pictures (which I figured y’all would want to see). First, I’m kind of surprised at how few pictures I have of me in various costumes and performances. I guess it just goes to show how this was just same-ol’-same-ol’ in my teenage life and it just didn’t occur to me to document it.

But, to caption them. I'm 14, maybe 15, in that soldier picture. I’d just come off stage and was headed down to the dressing room to change for second act. The reason my hair is in pigtails is that I was a child in the party scene, with a quick change to soldier. The pigtails (and the
bows) got shoved under a hat. My friend was in the same situation. Once we took off our hats, we felt we looked like majorettes, hence the pose. The next one is from 1988, so I'd just turned 16. I’m a candy cane in Act Two (I don’t know why my candy cane costume was green. It’s still a mystery. It’s a pretty tutu though…)

The last one isn't Nutcracker, it's Napoli (and I'm 16 or 17),but it's still a cute picture of me in costume!

***Tomorrow, Melanie Milburne joins us on the blog!


Playground Monitor said...

I've heard the music (my uncle gave me the 33 rpm album set of the Tchaikovsky music when I was a child) but I've never seen the ballet. I've actually never seen ANY ballet. Nor opera. But I've seen plenty of musical theater.

Cute pictures though. :-)

Christine said...

The pictures are beautiful. I can imagine why you'd avoid the NUTCRACKER. I love the fantasy part of that ballet. Perhaps my two favorites are THE FIREBIRD and CINDERELLA. I love to watch all forms of dance on stage and in film. We're huge fans of MT here as my DD used to participate in tons of them (not really a true place for her to pursue it here). Now we're happy to watch the shows in VBC, Bham and Nville.

Jean said...
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Jean said...

You looked beautiful--though not as beautiful as you do now.

Smarty Pants said...

I like the music of the Nutcracker but I don't actually like to watch it. I'm not a fan of ballet or dance in general, which is why you'll never draw me into those SYTYCD conversations. But I love Fantasia and everytime I ear the music, I see dancing flowers and fairies and mushrooms. I like that better.

Maven Linda said...

I have, with great diligence, managed to avoid EVER seeing the Nutcracker. However, PC, you look great in a tutu. I look at you and see how AC will look in a few years :-).

Don't think I'm dissing the Nut. I don't watch Christmas movies, either. I love Christmas decorations and the music and the kids going wild with gift-opening, but not the "Miracle on 34th Street" stuff.

My verification word: "agonie."

Yeah. That.

Instigator said...

Um...is it just me or does that costume look rose colored not green? I honestly need to know if my eyes are going right along with my hearing. Either way though, you look amazing in a tutu.


Pamela Hearon said...

You look precious in your costumes, but especially the candy cane tutu. I especially love that one. Like Linda, I see AC in those pictures in a few years:-)

I'm a Nutcracker fan. One of my favorite holiday memories is taking my seven-year-old daughter to Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis for a matinee production of The Nutcracker. We had lunch at a fancy restaurant for a very proper girls' day out, and she was mesmerized by the performance.

We've been to see it several times since then, but nothing can top that day. I've still got the ticket stubs in my keepsake box:-)

Thanks for the nostalgia. It's definitely Sugar Plums for me:-)


Heidi said...

Blimey I had no idea you used to be a dancer! Shows how much attention I pay! Never seen the Nutcracker (or any ballet for that matter) which is rather sad seeing as I live about twenty minutes walk from Sadlers Wells which is one of the top dance venues in Europe!! Although I was once forced to sit through Barbie's The Nutcracker, does that count?? It was a lot more nut than cracker if I recall correctly.

Christmas traditions round my neck of the woods definitely don't involve wearing a tutu, but boy did you look sweet in one Kim!

Problem Child said...

Barbie Nutcracker? Ouch.

The music is really good -- it's amazing how many people don't know that they know Nutcracker music.

Christine -- you're probably the first non-ballet dancer I've met that knows Firebird. That's one of my faves!

And y'all are so sweet with the compliments.

"agnoie" -- how appropriate! I'm sure my feet would agree.

Check your monitor, Insti. The color is bad in that picture (dark dressing room with yellow and cinderblock walls, old film), but I don't think it looks rose-colored. Does it?

Smarty Pants said...

It looks rose colored to me, too.

Problem Child said...

Hmm. Maybe since I know it's green it still looks that way to me.

catslady said...

We did take our girls to a performance once lol. We all enjoyed it but on to other things. Love the pics!

Ally Blake said...

Awww you look so cute!!! What a beeeeautiful tutu.

I used to do Highland Dancing and now I look back at those tiny beautiful little costumes and just think...how did I EVER fit into that!???


Christine said...

I had the pleasure of seeing an amazing performance of the FIREBIRD in Winnipeg years ago. The premier dancer had never taken formal lessons TILL she was discovered by the Wpg. National Ballet. OMG, AMAZING show. I still remember the plumage and the aerial lift... so fantastic.