When I was growing up my younger sister and beloved friend, Elizabeth, was a prima ballerina. At least, in my eyes. Each year her ballet company put on a performance of the Nutcracker. I grew up with Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece as an integral part of our Christmas repertoire. After I was married, a dear friend and I used to go together to the Middle Georgia performance. Years later, after we both had daughters, we took our little girls with us on the annual pilgrimage to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Here in Colorado I carry on the tradition, and we have discovered the Boulder Ballet who performs the Nutcracker complete with professional jugglers, flying Drosselmeyers, and most importantly, a full live symphony. It is an awesome experience, and I really treasure sharing it with my girls. Not that boys don’t like the ballet, just, you know, it’s a girl thang…
This past weekend the girls and I had our annual date with Clara. The house went dark, the orchestra was kicking – at the end of the party scene the Nutcracker came on stage, and Martha Claire said, in her not-so-inside voice, “Does he have anything on???” I reminded her that the male dancers wore tights (which apparently she did not remember from previous experience, she must have blocked it out). The rest of the performance was uneventful except for the occasional sigh of disgust coming from her seat.
On the way home, we were each sharing our favorite part of this year’s Nutcracker. Mine was a toss up between the Snow scene and the Russian jugglers – I know they’re not dancers, but they really were amazing. Caroline also loved the jugglers, and Drosselmeyer’s magic (he did a lot with invisible wires and flew off the stage in the last scene, what’s not to love?). Martha Claire’s contribution to the conversation was, “It was really great, except I wish he had had some pants on.” The Nutcracker, that is. I think I’ll have to edit my favorite parts to also include Martha Claire’s lack of acceptance of men in tights.
In conclusion, I want to thank my mom, who was willing to support her daughter’s ballet ambition and included all of us in the process which resulted in me having a tireless love for the annual holiday performance. Thank you to my sister, Elizabeth, I remember you as a gingersnap or angel (okay, maybe I don’t remember it all), a party child, the Chinese, the Mirlitons, and so many more, and no matter who is performing when we see it now, they are all held to the standard you have set in my mind. Thank you to my sister, Augusta, who was also a gingersnap one year, and the cutest one ever. Thank you to my sweet friend, Amy, who helped bridge this tradition into my adulthood, as well as your daughters. Most of all, thank you to my co-travellers on the voyage now, my darling girls, who have turned a ballet production into something much bigger in my heart. With ladies like these, who needs pants, anyway?