A Nutcracker Memory


Photo by WILL SHIVELY - BalletMet's Nutcracker Prince

Ah, December 15th… We are in the heart of The Nutcracker season. This time of year I find myself reflecting on my time with ballet’s most famous tradition. Of all my years and countless performances, I find it funny that my most memorable moment wasn’t my most glamorous. In fact, it was quite a disaster! 

It was my second year in BalletMet’s The Nutcracker, and I was casted in the battle scene as calvary. I wore an old snug fitting costume, bright red circles on my cheeks, and carried a sword in one hand, while the other held a giant horse head on a stick. Of the four girls in my cast, I was fortunate to have a small yet important role in the battle. During the scene, I was to leave the group, pas de chat from stage right to left, and try to take a stab at the Rat King. Then after the failed attempt, I was to retreat by throwing my sword over my shoulder and pas de chat back to my fellow calvary. In every rehearsal and performance, I performed this choreography without flaw… until that one dreadful day.

I can’t quit say if I was nervous, having a bad day, or maybe I had too much sugar, but everything that could go wrong sure as heck did! It started when my group was late entering the battle because we missed our music cue. Then, as I tried to make my was across the stage, I found myself darting through rats and soldiers. Just in the nick-of-time I was able to stab the Rat King, turn and throw my sword. But, as it left my hand, it flew with such a force that it disappeared into the darkness of downstage (the area nearest the audience), and then I heard a faint crash. I realized then I caused a Nutcracker disaster. Now Clara no longer had a sword to kill the Rat King and the tuba player had a huge bump on his head. Lucky for me the soldiers were able to confiscate a fork from a rat and Clara was still able to save the day. 

As for the aftermath, intermission brought on one angry Artistic Director. I remember cowering behind the racks of costumes until someone hurried him away from our dressing room. Looking back, it was a very traumatic experience. I really wanted to apologize to the tuba player, but I was nervous my life in The Nutcracker would be over if Mr. Nixon ever found out. After all these years, I’m pretty sure he figured out it was me, but if not, I guess he knows now! At least I can look back and laugh at it today.