Let’s get crackin’

Iconic “Nutcracker” performances to begin Dec. 2

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Story by Emily McMaster, staff writer

The audience crowds into the historic theater anxiously waiting for the curtains to swing open for the annual Texarkana Community Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.” As the lights dim, people scurry to find their seats. The music begins as the audience is transported into the late 1800s on Christmas day.

Much preparation is put into making the classic Christmas story come to life. Auditions are held in August and weekly practices start in October. Hard work and dedication is required at each of these rehearsals to make the production come together. However, most performers admit the most stressful and time consuming practices come the week of the show.

“The amount of time I put into “The Nutcracker” varies depending on how close it is getting to the show. I usually put in two to three hours a week, but as the performance nears the practices increase,” sophomore Sarah Grace Boudreaux said. “I think the practices help me so much for getting performance ready.”

Rehearsals the week of the performances consist of hours setting formations, final corrections and dress rehearsal. It is the first time all of the parts will come together and the first time dancers will perform on the stage.

“During show week we go to the Perot Theater everyday to clean dances and set formations,” freshman Madison Bowers said. “We put on our shoes, head up to the stage, run our dances repeatedly and receive corrections until it’s time to go.”  

Along with the timely practices, dancers must also take time to complete homework and study for school. A common scene in the backstage dressing rooms is performers completing assignments and reviewing textbooks as they wait for their next practice time.

“Typically to prepare for Nutcracker week I will do a majority of my homework the week before to ease my stress level a little bit,” junior Sarah Stark said. “It is really nice to be able to come home from rehearsals to only a small amount of work opposed to two or three hours of studying.”

Despite being stressed over the performance and the homework, the dancers audition again each year because of the experience. They train all year in hopes of receiving their dream role.

“This year I am playing the role of Mother Ginger, which is the mother of ten Bakers played by younger dancers,” freshman Hollan Borowitz said. “My favorite part of this year’s production is getting to practice with [the Bakers] and be a role model in their lives. I have always wanted to be someone others look up to and now I get that experience.”

Despite the school work, mental stress over the dance and the role played, Nutcracker week is looked forward to by many. Coming together from multiple community studios to create a magical performance allows for great memories to be made.

“One of my favorite things about “The Nutcracker” is getting to meet and bond with new people,” Stark said. “I have made a lot of really great friends through the years and I hope I can remember those memories forever.”

As the stage lights come on and the curtains come open, performers put final touch ups on their makeup and take a quick glance at the full auditorium. They review their dance one last time before stepping out onto the blinding stage.

“My thoughts before stepping on stage are all over the place. I am always so nervous, but right as I step on the stage, all the nerves go away and I feel in my element,” Boudreaux said. “After my performance, I always realize all of the hard work and stress is worth it.”

As the audience is carried through the journey of toy battles, stunning snow scenes and the Land of Sweets, performers feel relieved as to have put on their best performance. Although the audience may not realize the efforts put into “The Nutcracker,” the dancers pride themselves in knowing all of the hard work and stressful  moments had paid off.

“Many people may not realize how interconnected everything is in “The Nutcracker,”’ Borowitz said. “The show would not make sense if one scene was taken out. Plus [the performers] work all year hoping to give the best performance possible.”