Social Buttons

Friday, December 6, 2013

ABT—Off Center: Nutcracker Memories

Kenneth Easter and Justin Souriau-Levine. Photo: Gene Schiavone
Giant gingerbread cookies? Skiing rats? It’s all part of a dancer’s annual Nutcracker ritual. Here, four Nutcracker veterans share some of their fondest and funniest memories.

Rachel Moore, ABT CEO
During the mid-1980s, American Ballet Theatre performed The Nutcracker at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles for three weeks each December. On New Year’s Eve, ABT dancers would take “liberties” with the choreography, with the idea that it would be a “Nutty Nutcracker.” One year, when I was a member of the corps de ballet and in the Snow Scene, Larry Pech, a member of the corps playing the role of one the Rats, made a special appearance. Dressed in his rat costume, Larry donned a pair of roller skates and ski poles, and went gliding through the snow scene, dodging us “Snowflakes.” It was a moment to remember!

Kenneth Easter
, ABT Corps de Ballet
Justin Souriau-Levine. Photo courtesy ABT
One year, while performing with Miami City Ballet, it was a typical show until the “Waltz of the Flowers,” when we began to smell smoke. Everyone backstage was alarmed, but the ballerinas continued to make their entrances as the music played. Eventually, one of the stage managers figured out that one of the lights above the stage had caught fire and yelled out to clear the stage. The only dancer that didn’t hear was Dewdrop, who was concentrating on her upcoming fouetté turns.The conductor, still focused on the musicians and the ballerina, was unaware the fire alarm had sounded. Needless to say, the theater was cleared safely, but not before Dewdrop went out and completed her 24 fouettés alone onstage with burning red gel from the lights above raining down around her. Not a show I think I’ll ever forget.

Justin Souriau-Levine, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School Student
My most memorable experience performing The Nutcracker was as the Little Mouse with ABT. My dresser, Angel, gets me into costume most days and makes sure it stays in perfect condition. One day, during my scene with the Polichinelles, I was sliding across the stage and ripped my costume completely open at the knee. I ran offstage and my chaperone called Angel. He ran down to me as quickly as he could with a needle and thread and saved my costume by sewing it back together before I had to run onto stage again. After that, I called him “Super Angel”!

Zhong-Jing Fang, ABT Corps de Ballet
The first time I ever performed in a production of The Nutcracker was in Kevin McKenzie’s version with ABT. My role was the giant gingerbread cookie, which jumps off the Christmas tree and is eaten by the Mouse King. As I had just come to America from China, it was also my first experience with any type of Christmas celebration. That first Nutcracker experience became one of my most memorable holidays.

American Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker is at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House from Dec 13—22.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.