Dancing Dreams: Nutcracker Preview



Meaghan Haire

Interested in visions of sugarplum fairies and nutcrackers this Christmas season? This weekend the Colgate Ballet Company will be giving their third annual performance of The Nutcracker.

The show will run from Friday, November 30 to Sunday, December 2 at the Brehmer Theatre. Performances will take place at 7 p.m. on November 30, and then again on December 2 for a 2 p.m. matinee performance and another at 6 p.m.

The third times proves to be a charm for the Colgate Ballet Company. With a new set, talented freshmen and added scenes not performed at last year’s recital, the third Nutcracker will still excite and charm even veteran audience members.

Co-assistant Director, soldier doll and demi-soloist in the Waltz of the Flowers sophomore Maggie Fried discussed the evolution of the show.

“Even though it might seem like The Nutcracker would be the same year after year, our shows keep changing every year because we are such a new company,” Fried said.

Advisor and ballet mistress, Political Science Professor Mai’a Cross also supports this view.

“[The Company] makes a major change to the performance every year,” Cross said.

This year the major addition is a new scene, the Snow Scene, which Cross choreographed herself and adds a pas de deux to the performance. The addition of two new pas de deux is very exciting for all involved. A pas de deux is a “step of two” when a man partners with a woman for a dance. This was made possible is by two men joining the Company this year.

Senior Shannon Larabe, co-Director along with Sugar Plum Fairy and senior Amelia Lipman, expressed her enthusiasm over the presence of males in the cast.

“For the first time at Colgate we have guys!” Larabe said. This means that we are able to do the Sugar Plum pas de deux, which is extremely exciting, along with an Arabian duet that we haven’t done before.”

The addition of men to the cast also means that there can be a Nutcracker and a Prince/Cavalier this year.

“These additions allow us to perform the traditional partnering pieces that require guys and also add more difficult dances because of the new talented freshmen,” said Fried.

Another addition this year is the beautiful new stage set designed by senior Matt Jandreau, which was actually the result of a class project.

“This year we are building a set for each act,” Fried explained. “In previous years, our set has just been Christmas lights strung on mesh, so the addition of actual scenery will make the story of the ballet seem more realistic and the whole production much more professional.”

The added membership of this year’s freshmen talent is especially exciting for the Ballet Company.

Sophomore Katherine Pezzella, Toy Doll in the Party Scene, Spanish Corp member, Lead Russian and Flower in the Waltz of Flowers shared her thoughts about the additions.

“The freshmen are awesome and contribute so much to the quality of the performance.”

Cross also mentions the level of professionalism that the freshmen dancers bring to the table.

“They all dance on point, and are motivated and excited to perform in The Nutcracker,” Cross said.

The Nutcracker runs the same weekend as DanceFest, which according to Pezzella is an added stress for dancers who perform in both, but The Nutcracker purposely does not run the same night as Dancefest.

“[I hope] DanceFest will inspire people to attend more dance events, and come to The Nutcracker performances,” Cross said.

Larabee explained that five ballet dancers are performing a non-Nutcracker related piece in this year’s DanceFest.

“It’s a jazzy piece that is very fun to dance,” Larabee said.

The Colgate Ballet Company as a new company has already accomplished a great deal, a feat primarily thanks to Faculty Advisor and Ballet Mistress, Professor Cross. As Ballet Mistress, Cross sets the choreography and teaches the students their dances. She has even taught a number of cast members to dance on point this year, including Pezzella.

Cross is an extremely experienced ballerina. She was trained at the School of American Ballet and since then has been a company member of the Stamford City Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet Group, Hawaii State Ballet and was principal dancer at the Harvard Ballet Company. She was one of the founders of the CBC and two years ago actually ended up dancing in Colgate’s Nutcracker performance after the lead had an unexpected injury. However, Cross is not planning on performing this year.

Larabee enthusiastically expressed her praise of Cross.

“Mai’a is amazing,” Larabee said. “She has helped us so much both in the past and now. We really could not have come so far without her help. Setting such large choreography is hard for dancers who haven’t had her level of training.”

CBC held auditions during the second week of the semester, and rehearsals have lasted about three months with twice weekly ballet classes and an additional 2+ hours of rehearsal. The main rehearsals for the company are held on Thursday, but many of those with leads have more practices with Cross throughout the week.

There is no better way to bring in the holiday season than to go check out Colgate Ballet Company’s performance of The Nutcracker. The Company has had sold out shows the past two years running, and they expect the same from this year’s performance.

“The combination of the new talent, the higher level of skill attained by past company members, as well as the new scenery, will make the show really different than it was last year and definitely worth coming to,” Fried said.