Q&A with Academy Student Eleni McGee

You may recall our recent post on The Nutcracker clown auditions, which you can read here.  Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy student Eleni McGee, age 12, is one of the lucky few who will take the stage in November to dance this role.  Here’s what she had to say about performing in The Nutcracker:

Q: Why did you audition for this role?
A: With each of the numerous performances I feel the pounding thrill of the music combined with the detailed, elaborate costumes and quick choreography. These aspects make me desire to be on the stage each year for The Nutcracker. Even with the nerve-wracking anxiety of the auditions, each year of The Nutcracker is definitely worth it. So when thousands of bodies with butterflies flapping in their stomachs crowded into Studio A to face an array of judges, I thought of the exhilarating fun that would await me if I were accepted.   Even when I attended The Nutcracker at five years old in a frilly pink dress, my favorite part would be the clowns darting out of Mother Ginger’s skirt and frolicking around happily. Each year this image causes me to want the role more and more.

Q: How long have you been dancing?
A: I have been dancing for six years.

Q: What are you most looking forward to during The Nutcracker run?
A: I most anticipate dancing the energetic steps on the stage during The Nutcracker with bright lights shining on you and colorful props popping out in the corners of your eyes. I relish the moments when friends gather into the dressing rooms and discuss the performance while re-applying make-up and hairspray.  Performing the part with friends is especially exciting, because the role of the clown certainly requires the teamwork of twisting and turning each other and delivering it with a gleaming smile.  I also admire every second of the melodic, flowing music that just seems to leak into the audience’s chairs. Gawking at the professional dancers being perfectly courageous and fearless on stage is always a highlight of The Nutcracker.

Q: What does landing this role mean to you as a dancer?
A: When I opened the acceptance letter for The Nutcracker, I overflowed with joy. Each year I have enjoyed the dancing and choreography. Especially with this being my last year to be able to be a clown, I feel fortunate to perform the steps on stage along with my peers.  As a dancer, I am happy to experience as much as I can on stage with the professional company. Every step seems to be filled with honor, and I am glad to have exposure to know what it is like to have your part on stage make a difference in what the audience thought or the newspaper review.  I love the energetic steps, and the fact that I get to show the work from rehearsals and classes on stage is fabulous.

For more information about The Nutcracker, you may visit Houston Ballet’s website.


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