Three dancers share the sweet holiday traditions that get them through Nutcracker season.
Ballet West corps member
For the past three years, Richardson has been making her favorite Santa cookies from childhood for the company during its Nutcracker run.
When: “Finding time to bake them can be difficult. What I love about these cookies is that you can make the dough ahead of time, cut it into shapes and then freeze them. All you need to do is pop them in the oven and decorate!”
shenanigans: “In the corps dressing room we have a strand of monkeys hanging from the ceiling. After each show, one monkey is removed and everyone makes monkey noises in celebration! And for the performance on Christmas Eve, all the dancers put bells in their hairpieces or tutus for a little extra jingle!”
Baking is more than a holiday pastime for Richardson, who made her own wedding cake. Peek at her creations on Instagram: @ballerina_baker.
Nashville Ballet apprentice
The tradition: Since 2005, the women of Nashville Ballet have held an annual “sweet swap” during Nutcracker season. Everyone brings in a homemade baked good and copies of the recipe, then leaves with a goody bag of treats.
Treat of choice: “I love the holly cookie. I grew up having them at Christmas. I try to switch it up, though—last year I tried to make a different cookie, and I was in tears and so stressed out! This year I’m doing the holly cookie again.”
Company affair: “We invite some of the retired dancers. It’s cool to get to know them. I was first invited when I was in the second company and was really excited to be asked! Last year the guys got mad we didn’t invite them, so we might change that this year.”
Her Holly Cookie Recipe:
1 stick butter
34 large, high-quality marshmallows
1 1/2 teaspoons green food coloring
4 cups cornflakes
Red Hots to garnish
Quickly melt butter and marshmallows and add food coloring in large pan, stirring constantly. Add the cornflakes and continue stirring until evenly mixed. Drop spoonfuls of mixture on parchment paper to cool. Add 2–3 Red Hots on each while still cooling, so they’ll stick.
Miami City Ballet principal soloist
The tradition: Manning and her husband (fellow principal soloist Didier Bramaz) have been making her grandma’s “French coffee roll” cookies for the past 10 years. “When I joined the company, I wanted to give everyone a present at Christmas. It started out with just a few people, and has grown into 400 or so cookies.”
Backstage surprise: “I put them on everyone’s dressing room spot while they’re not there. It’s a fun surprise! Tricia Albertson looks forward to them so much—she comes into the dressing room screaming.”
Cookie drama: “I have a friend in the company who gets extra cookies because I’m also friends with her boyfriend. I have to text her boyfriend and tell him how many cookies I give her, because she’ll eat them all!”