Every year, I look forward to Nutcracker. It is my favorite time of the year and for me, it would not be Christmas without Nutcracker. For me, alot of firsts are associated with this magical ballet; the first time I was exposed to ballet, the first time I understood true artistry, my first pas de deux, the first time I guested. This year, is my first performing Nutcracker with a professional company. I'm blessed to be a part of the 50th anniversary cast of Atlanta Ballet's Nutcracker and here is my side of a really cool adventure.

Melissa Mitchell by C McCullers sm 
In September, I was excited to find my name on a list calling me to a height line up with the Company. This meant that I was being considered for company casting such as Flowers and Snow. A group of us pre-pros headed to studio 5 on the third floor at the assigned time. First, the ballet mistress, Dale Shieldslined the Company members in height order. Then she lined the pre-pros in height order. Then we all got in one big line stretching from one end of the studio to the other. I was fifth from the short end, with four Company members shorter than me (Nadia, Alessa, Peng, and Yoomi). A few days later, the cast list came out for Waltz of the Flowers–and I was an understudy! So, I started going to the rehearsals. This year, John McFall re-choreographed Flowers and it was fun to see his thought processes. After a few weeks of learning it on the sides, Ms. Dale asked me to step in during rehearsal. That was so nerve-wracking; I was happy to be asked to do the part but I was also nervous about messing up and learning the spacing and everything–I'm sure I was way too tense to look very much like a Flower. But I didn't do too badly. After being thrown in, I was much more confident that I knew the part. I am also an understudy for Snow.


A few weeks later, I was also cast as a Dream Fairy (a very minor, no-pressure role in the opening of Act II). After Magic Flute was over, Nutcracker rehearsals began in full swing. As I checked the Company board one day, I was delighted to find my name under a rehearsal called for lambs. Two pink lambs along with one baby lamb dance with the shepherdess during the Marzipan divertissement. Only two other pre-pros were cast as lambs, the rest were Fellowship students. Another cool thing about being a lamb is that I got a pair of pointe shoes for being cast in the part. The downside of being a lamb is that your whole body is covered–including your head. This past week was the first time we practiced with the lamb heads on. It's a little challenging because you can't see anything but straight ahead but at least you don't have to keep a pleasant face while you are gasping for air.

A. Harshbarger & N. Griswold in Nutcrakcer. 

This week, we go into the theatre for dress and tech rehearsals. The show opens on Friday the 11th and runs until the 27th at the Fox Theatre. I'll keep posting with more pictures and tidbits as we progress. Hope your Nutcracker season is going well. Leave me a comment and let me know how it's going.

Photos by Charlie McCullers

2 thoughts on “Nutcracker 2009-Pt. 1

  1. How exciting!!!!!
    I am so happy for you!
    Thanks for sharing this experience.
    Keep the pictures coming especially of you!
    Hey get your mom to film your rehersal and post that!!!

  2. Unfortunately, we are not allowed film the rehearsal. And videos of the show are not available. But I will keep you updated.

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