Every year, Sunny’s school puts on an all-student performance of The Nutcracker. This doesn’t just mean everyone who performs is a student, it means all students perform, from the 6-week babies to the 6th-graders —they even have alumni kids come back to help wrangle the dancers.
Janie spent three years at this school and was, in order, a Snowflake, a Spanish Dancer, and a Flower.* Sunny has followed in her sister’s footsteps until this final year, when she was cast as a Russian Dancer.
“Not a dancer, Mommy,” she told me. ”A tumbler.” And she proved it by somersaulting into the barrister’s case. For three weeks.
But the performance itself is always a hoot and you can’t get near the stage for parental groupies. My husband and Janie went to the balcony to take photos with his camera, while my MIL and I did what we could from the main level.
These aren’t good, because I took them and my husband left for an all-day yoga workshop right after the final curtain call, taking his camera with him. And the theater was dark and the similarly-dressed dancers kept moving and, well, I took them. But these are the best of the lot and should give you an idea of the exuberance and fluidity of the experience.
To keep things more manageable, the cast—barring the littlest members, who “go to bed” right after their acts—stays on the stage:
The kids are sitting about five deep. Sunny is on the right, behind the pointsettias. I think.
Here’s the epic battle between the Rat King’s mouse troops and the tin soldiers. The soldiers were outnumbered this year—two took one look at the audience and fled back to their cupboard—but since most of the mice ignored them to fight each other, it didn’t matter much.
The Rat King and the Nutcracker duke it out.I took this about ten seconds before the Nutcracker’s head spun around and fell off. It was great. Clara, who’s doing the oh, dear face under the tree, will be taking off her shoe and decking the Rat King, thus becoming the first self-rescuing princess in ballet.
The Chinese Dancers, with dragon. There’s more to meet the eye with this dragon . . .
. . . a lot more. Last year, the last segment of the dragon broke free and had to be chased down by Herr Drosselmeyer.
The flowers were as busy as bees this year—they would occasionally plant themselves, and the Flower Fairy on the right would smack them on the head with her wand to make them twirl again. If the Fairy had been wielding that when Jane was a blossom, it might have been a little less vaudeville . . . Which would have been a shame.
Here are the Russian Dancers. Sunny is third from the left, or fourth from the right, and kicking like a small, curly Cossack.
To the delight of the audience, she threw her hands high in a sort of gymnastics salute . . .
. . . bent in half . . .
. . . flipped over . . .
. . . And recovered to thunderous applause. I’m not kidding—the ladies behind me were cheering.
Especially on her second pass, when she threw her hands up high . . . then stopped the proceedings to pull her pants up. It brought down the house.
As did her curtsey before she hid behind the poinsettias again.
“You were wonderfull,” I said later,while trying to get her new Hello Kitty! bootsover her still-kicking feet. ”Did you have fun?”
She grinned at me. “I was scared when I was waiting, Mommy. But then it was my turn and I was brave.”
Yes, you were, sweetheart.
This was our last year for this particular production company’s Nutcracker—Sunny will be going to Jane’s school for kindergarten. But it’s always so much fun, I think I might sneak in next time as an alumni parent.**
*In her last performance, she and her friend hammed it up so much, I was certain the Flower Fairy was going to plant her permanently in the stage, petals down. Her father and I sympathized.
**One of the ladies behind me did—she says it’s even better when you don’t have to worry that your Snowflake might absentmindedly stick her finger up her nose to the second knuckle while waiting for her cue. Sounds good to me.