Guest writer: Katelyn May, student of the Ben Stevenson Academy
Nothing starts the holiday season for me like the beginnings of The Nutcracker. A family tradition since I was five years old, my parents would cart the troops (also known as my grandparents, sister and I) to the theater to watch the magical ballerinas turn, jump and carry us away to the Land of the Sweets. I remember watching these magical creatures and wishing that one day it would be me. Now I am getting my chance.
I am a second year student at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy; therefore, this is my second season performing in the company’s production of The Nutcracker. I may not be the swirling and twirling ballerina that makes this performance so memorable (meaning that I play a role as a rat) but I find the experience to be rather enjoyable. Despite popular opinion, I like performing this production over 30 times. I have to admit, it’s hard sometimes to keep up the morale of all participants somewhere around the 15th show, but overall it is a memorable experience. When those hard times hit, I find that it helps me to remind myself of all of those little kids out there who, like me, are aspiring to become ballerinas that dance in the Land of the Sweets. I think it is this reminder that will continue to keep this production going on.
As for me, I find it enjoyable to perform this ballet so many times because I get to watch the people that I idolize dance. Not only is it great as an entertainment aspect, but I also learn new techniques of dance and performance from watching them. I try to apply these techniques to myself so that one day I may be the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Performing so many shows is also special socially. We are at the theater not only for the month that we are performing, but we also start rehearsing almost a month before the actual opening of the show. Needless to say, we learn a lot about each other. Most of us (the Academy students) live away from home, and it is nice to have a wide support base of friends during the holiday season, when it can be the hardest time to be away from home.
Each Nutcracker season is so unique, and I look forward to all of the performances to come.