Monday, December 21, 2009

Dec. 19: Nutcracker

When I was a wee lad of four turning five, I made my stage debut as a living doll in the Southwest Ballet Company production of The Nutcracker at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque. During the magical part of the ballet when the party was over and the inanimate objects began to stir and grow, me and two (or three, if the little boy who fell asleep constantly backstage was awake) others would maneuver stiffly (cause we were dolls) on to the stage, and then the giant mice would scurry over and pick us up. We would kick and wriggle and they would carry us away offstage again. I reprised my role the following year, then decided I wanted a break when I was turning seven (it always was around my birthday). Upon returning to the show when I turned eight, I was promoted to the role of a Bon-Bon (the boy version of a Polichinelle, click to find out more). I would dance out from under Mother Ginger's massive dress along with seven others and we would frolic and do cartwheels and blow kisses at the audience, and then, back under the skirt to march offstage, trying to avoid getting our toes stepped on by the cross-dressed man on stilts. It was great fun. Sadly, I quit ballet the following year so I could do more "boy" things. I wish I had stuck with it--it would have made me more limber/muscular and less bean-polish. Ah well, the follies of youth. But the magical experience of The Nutcracker will always be special to me.

This year, I wanted Reuben to experience that same magic, but as a spectator. One of the young ladies that was in the short film I directed last year was performing in the Joffrey Ballet School's production of The Nutcracker at NYU this year. The tickets were quite affordable, and seeing the show again for the first time in probably ten years, this time with my own child, I saw what a magical world it paints for children. The Christmas tree and all the toys growing to enormous heights, the battle between the giant mice and the toy soldiers, dancing snowflakes, parading sweets--and still one of my most favorite parts--Mother Ginger. As a matter of fact, our actress friend was one of the Polichinelles who introduced Mother Ginger this year.

It was quite a good show, in spite of the recorded music instead of a live orchestra, but I realized this probably keeps the show going at a steady pace (good for the kids in the audience)--and it was unabridged, which as a purist I appreciated very much. Reuben showed such good theatre etiquette. He sat on the edge of his seat watching the whole time, and whispered only every once in a while if he had a question. He was especially intrigued by the battle between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker--and beforehand I told him there was the Nutcracker who turned into a Prince and sometimes he doubled as the Cavalier (but most times the Cavalier is a separate character). Reuben would ask me "Is that the Cavillary?" "Is the Rat King dead?"--but all in a polite whisper. When asked what his favorite parts were: "All of them"


Tammy Lorna said...

Yes Justin! Tell us about it!


:) Tammy

JoJo said...

I loooove the Nutcracker. I never performed in it... I did take ballet when I was young and I was supposed to be in it one year, but I was scared to dance onstage (haha) so I convinced my mom I didn't want to dance anymore. Wish I had stuck with it! Oh well!

Lisa Brown said...

How awesome that you got to see it. I really wanted to take my daughter this year, but it didn't work out.

Christina said...

We took our Isabella this year to The Nutcracker at Popejoy this year. She loved it! She said, "Mommy I want to be a ballerina and be in it. Do you think I can be good enough someday?" I proceeded to tell her she could be and that I knew a boy growing up that was in it a few times. She was quite excited at the possibility! I'm glad you got to share the experience with your little one. It's such a heart warming feeling to watch the amazement in thier eyes!

Tammy Lorna said...

hah! I dub thee 'validated' :)

I would have loved to see a little Justin dancing his heart away! Sounds like a wonderful night out all round :)

xo Tammy