We went to The Nutcracker Ballet last night. My two daughters, my two nieces, one of my sisters and I. We left the boys behind. One can only force so much merriment on men this time of year.
It’s been years since I’ve been to the ballet. College, probably. (Which, loathe though I am to admit it, ended 20 years ago this spring.) The Nutcracker is probably the last ballet I saw, in fact, though it might have been Swan Lake. I did cultured stuff in college. I like to think that I still do, though I’m not sure if attending “Spamalot” counts as culture. (Well, it’s culture, all right, but not, perhaps, the refined part of it. It was fun, though!)
I attended the opera back then, too. My aunt sang in the opera chorus of the Eugene Opera, and my mom and I would drive over from Bend, OR, (I lived there in tenth grade) whenever she had a performance. La Boheme, Madame Butterfly, Carmen, she was in them all. It was a great season! She always got me posters, too, with which I decorated my room in Berlin, months later. Lovely reminders of home.
But I digress – as usual.
Going to The Nutcracker was terribly fun. We dressed up. We put on airs (well, I did anyway) and we relaxed into the artistic atmosphere. And now, of course, my daughters are prancing around the house, taking turns being Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Lucy boogied big-time right after the intermission and then fell asleep three minutes later in my arms. Pretty sweet.
I was in The Nutcracker twice when I was small. It was an interesting production; a strange conglomeration of local ballet students and kids who could not dance but who wanted to act. No, I was not one of the dancers. (See my posts about my dancing horrors this past summer.) I was one of the supporting cast. The second year I was the mouse mother, Dame Mouserick, by name. I think the director gave me that title to compensate for the fact that I was not given the same role I’d been given the first year. Whether the role was denied me because I’d been so bad at it the first year, I do not know. I prefer to think that it was just a case of a better person coming along, rather than desperately moving me to a different part.
Who was I that first year?
The Mouse King!
I have no idea why I was chosen to be the Mouse King, other than the fact that I was bold and willing and not nearly as embarrassed to wear tights as the boys of the cast would have been, given as I was used to such garments. I don’t remember being embarrassed to be playing the part of a boy. I must have embraced my inner Mary Martin (who played Peter Pan) and given it all I could. I think I also was a Chinese “dancer” (read “clod-hopper”), though how I pulled that off, I truly do not know, given as I am neither Chinese nor, as previously mentioned with painful clarity, a dancer.
I dearly wish that we had those performances on video, but way back in the dark ages circa 1980, we didn’t have such things. How I would love to be able to watch myself wielding my sword, lurching across the stage – and how my kids would love it, too!
If you’re ever in Seattle and have a yen for the Nutcracker, I highly recommend it. It was a wonderful performance and features sets and costumes designed by Maurice Sendak of “Where the Wild Things Are” fame.
A great time was had by all…plus, it was a wonderful way to escape from the rain…