The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

The student-run newspaper of the Liberal Arts and Science Academy

The Liberator

Austin’s Nutcracker is En Pointe

Ballet Dancers Perform Holiday Classic
Asha Rountree

From the Summer nesting of bats under the Congress Avenue bridge to the city’s multiple Spring marathons, Austin has many seasonal traditions every year. As winter approaches, Ballet Austin’s annual Nutcracker performance is on the horizon. Numerous LASA students who train at Ballet Austin are taking part in the production.

Ballet Austin dedicates months of preparation and work in tandem with the Austin Symphony Orchestra to perform musical compositions for The Nutcracker. All of the classical music written for The Nutcracker was created by the Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

Preparation started in late September and continues up until the first performance on Saturday, Dec. 2. For Ballet Austin students, rehearsals take place every Saturday and are on top of a recommended 3-hour class. 

Junior Amber Wang plays the role of Clara, a girl who is led into a magical world by her newly-gifted Nutcracker who comes to life on Christmas Eve, and has been training in ballet since she was in sixth grade and has been enrolled the past few years at Ballet Austin Academy. 

“This is my third year doing The Nutcracker with Ballet Austin,” Wang said. “I never did a big production before I joined Ballet Austin, and it’s been really special being a part of such a big Austin holiday tradition.” 

Rehearsals for the production take place every Saturday and are on top of a recommended 3-hour class. Wang said that while the rehearsals can get very stressful, the work they do makes it worth it. 

“It’s a lot of material that we have to know, physically and mentally,” Wang said. “Rehearsals are a very professional setting, and we’re all working really hard to make sure we can live up to the standards. It’s difficult, but very inspiring and constructive. The environment we have at Ballet Austin is always so supportive, which makes rehearsals really enjoyable.”

Sophomore Valentina Bernal plays the role of a girl who attends the Christmas Eve party. Bernal has been dancing since she was 5 years old and has been a member of Ballet Austin since 5th grade. She says that while many people in the production are accustomed to the added load of rehearsals. 

“Being in The Nutcracker definitely takes a toll on everything else in your life,” Bernal said. “We have rehearsal every weekend, and specifically [for the role of] party girls, we’re usually at ballet Austin almost all day and then have to pick between studying or seeing friends because we really don’t have time to do both. The [dancers given the] roles of party girls, Clara, and soldiers have to dance every day after school anyways so we’re used to managing all of that, but it’s always hard.”

Asha Rountree

Phoebe Herbert, a sophomore who has been dancing for 11 years, is also taking part in the production. While Herbert agrees that rehearsals can make scheduling challenging, she said she gets to see her friends at dance and they make the experience special. 

“My favorite part of The Nutcracker is show days,” Herbert said. “I get to the theater and go to the dressing room where my friends are. We do makeup and hair, and everyone is so excited. The nerves hit me when I go to the stage and I’m waiting in the wings. But then we do the dance, and it goes fine, and we hurry back to the dressing room with huge smiles on our faces. It’s a blast.”

Not only do the Ballet Austin Academy dancers get to dance together in a full production, they also get to dance with professionals from the company who are incorporated into the cast as well. They share the stage with a local celebrity who plays the role of Mother Ginger, a motherly character who lives in the land of sweets.

“I think the most unique aspect is that students like myself get to work with a professional company and are given the opportunity to perform at the long center in front of a real paying audience,” Bernal said. “I also think that it’s very unique how for Mother Ginger they bring in a different celebrity to play her every year, not a huge celebrity but a decently well-known one. One year we got Kendra Scott, which was pretty exciting.”

This year’s production is the 61st Nutcracker for Ballet Austin. According to their website, it is the longest-running production of The Nutcracker in Texas, and according to Herbert, it is even more magical to be a part of than to watch.

“The most unique part of the production is all the little details that add to the story,” Herbert said. “For example, the Rat King’s crown is made of cheese. Or when the children are running around Drosselmeyer asks him to do a magic trick, and he pulls flowers out of thin air. I notice so many little details when I’m part of the performance.”

The production will be appearing on stage at the Long Center from Dec. 2-23. Tickets are available for purchase on Ballet Austin’s website with prices ranging from $15-$125.

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