Sunday, November 17, 2013

Clara Corner: We All Have That One Uncle...

As it turns out, one of Clara's favorite relatives in the whole world is her Uncle Drosselmeyer (who is also her Godfather). We all have that one relative who you just connect with in a special way. Who is that person in your family? For Clara it's her eccentric and wonderful Godfather. He is the one who famously gifts her a pretty sweet Christmas present, which everyone knows is the Nutcracker doll.
Every dancer who plays the role of Clara comes up with her own character and version of the little girl who visits the Land of the Sweets. For my Clara, her relationship to Drosselmeyer is key to the story. I believe they have a very close and special relationship that started way back when she was very young. The first time he reveals himself onstage in the party scene it is clear that they have a very special bond.

A neat illustrated version of Clara's Uncle Drosselmeyer, who gives her the Nutcracker doll.

Drosselmeyer is a toymaker and one of those magical individuals. We are especially intrigued by the way he creates magic in Clara's world that night to give her the dream about huge mice and a life sized Nutcracker soldier doll who turns into her Prince.
I believe he has been that magical influence on her since she was even younger, and I've decided that my Clara is somewhat of a "magic junkie." She loves anything mysterious or exciting. I think she trusts him and revels in allowing him to take her on this sometimes scary journey, because of the bond of trust and imagination he's cultivated as she's grown up. Paul Fiorino has played the role for years with Ballet Ariel and is playing it again this year. He is an incredible actor and strikes the perfect balance between being mysterious and paternal in his Drosselmeyer, which fits wonderfully well with my version of Clara.

Studio shot of me as Clara with the Nutcracker

I believe Drosselmeyer has given Clara a great gift in the dream he creates for her. I believe he has told her the story of the Nutcracker doll and where he came from for years, and then waited patiently until she was just old enough to fall in love for the first time to give her the gift of this magical doll. The battle, the beautiful snowflakes, and the Land of the Sweets are all part of this great and magical gift.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Clara Corner: How I Became a 14 Year Old Again.

As a young teen, every single experience seems so intense and emotional. Very young people (and I'm speaking from memory) feel things so deeply. Everything is so raw, every heartbreak so real and world-ending.
Next time you are with a very young teen, observe their reactions to things. Notice if they are able to "fake" things well. I think you will notice they seldom can. Even when they try to "act" as if they are happy/etc, you can see what they are thinking if they truly are not happy at that moment. Most of us adults, on the bridge between childhood and adulthood, pick up an ability to hide the emotions that are not "appropriate." Whether the reason is we are in public, at work, or in a situation where you just have to get other things done first, sometimes we just can't let the tears/laughter/etc loose. It is all part of being a functioning adult person, but in my opinion there's something so cool about not having to "edit" yourself.

Claire Snyder as Fritz and me as Clara. Typical brother/sister interactions!
As Clara I have made it my goal to transfer my heart to my face. Not physically of course (gross) but I would like every emotion Clara is feeling to register clearly for YOU, the audience.
When I become entranced with my new toy, the Nutcracker, I want you to see how deeply I love this doll.
When Fritz breaks my beloved Nutcracker, I literally feel like my world is ending. I want you to see that heartbreak.
When the doll is transformed into a life sized soldier, I want you to feel my awe and astonishment at this amazing thing that is happening!
And of course, when I see this huge toy soldier transform into my perfect Prince, I want you to literally feel the butterflies and sparkles that are giving my heart wings! I want you to feel the newness of dancing with and holding hands with a boy for the first time.
This is my privilege, to bring her story to life.

Rebecca Dean and myself (who are double cast as Clara together at Ballet Ariel this year)
**Information for shows and TICKETS here: (I am dancing Clara in the Dec 14th 8 pm show and Dec 15th 3pm show at Cleo Parker Robinson Theater in Denver!)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Clara Corner: First Day Ever of Being Clara!!

Today was my first day ever (it feels so amazing to say that!) of being Clara! After class and lunch, we started up with Act 2 opening. This is the first time Clara sees the Land of the Sweets and Sugar Plum Fairy's castle. In this scene I get to dance with the Prince (played by Peter Strand, my longtime partner at Ballet Ariel) as we explore the amazing surroundings.
The next rehearsal was for the Land of the Snow. Clara and Prince dance in and out of the swirling Snowflakes on their way to Sugar Plum Fairy's castle. There were a couple really cool (and challenging) lifts in this choreography, which were fun to attempt and see improvement on as we continued to work on them.
I posted on Facebook last night about today being my first day of rehearsals as Clara, and that the first person to comment on the thread could ask me to take a picture of anything they wanted to see me doing at work today. One of my young friends said, "Make the weirdest face ever." So here it is:

This is me after Snow rehearsal, making the requested weird face, albiet a little ragged, and happy in my new leotard! Fun leotards make the day so much better-- when you feel good in what you're wearing, you dance better. At least that's my experience.
All in all a great first day in my dream role. Next rehearsal coming up on Friday in two days, I'll keep you updated as we continue learning choreography. Excited also to continue to get to know this young teenage character deeper as the process unfolds.
Information for shows and tickets here: (I am dancing Clara in the Dec 14th 8 pm show and Dec 15th 3pm show)