Advice for Dancers
There are only a few featured roles in any ballet with many dancers hoping for a chance to perform them. Stock Snap.

This year I expected to be cast in a solo role in Nutcracker after adding private lessons and Pilates to my schedule. Yet I only landed a demi-solo part. How should I deal with this setback?

—Wannabe Sugar Plum, Bethpage, NY

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Dance in Pop Culture
Jennifer Garner "helps" Stella Abrera warm up. Still via Instagram.

Jennifer Garner wants the world to know that she takes game day seriously—and she's not talking about football. For ballet dancers during December, there's obviously only one type of "game day." Nutcracker, of course.

Garner is a highly documented ballet lover, and, this time, she went the extra mile to show her dedication. Thankfully, she was on hand as American Ballet Theatre warmed up for its current Nutcracker run at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California.

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Career Advice
Ballet Austin's corps in Snow Scene. Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood, courtesy Ballet Austin.

Few people who are busier during the holidays than corps members of American ballet companies. December is officially Nutcracker season—a company's chance to earn a huge chunk of their revenue for the year, and a dancer's chance to go a little, ahem, nuts, waltzing and swallowing fake snow night after night for weeks on end.

But Nutcracker can also be an opportunity like no other, and for some corps members, it's the highlight of their year. Five dancers told us what helps them get through it all.

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Rant & Rave
New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin. Photo by Nick Nakahara, Courtesy Pazcoguin.

As conversations in the ballet world about race and representation have opened up in the past few years, its most beloved holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, has come under scrutiny as well. Last year New York City Ballet made changes to its second act Chinese Tea variation, removing elements of racial caricature from both the costume and makeup and the choreography.

NYCB soloist Georgina Pazcoguin, who is part Filipino, was one of the voices fighting for that change. This year, as companies and schools worldwide are gearing up for Nutcracker season, Pazcoguin, along with former dancer and arts administrator Phil Chan, is back with a new campaign. Final Bow For Yellowface is an online platform dedicated to educating companies and schools on how to veer away from offensive Asian stereotypes (yellowface) and providing resources on how to make those changes. The site also lets readers join dance world luminaries including Virginia Johnson, Julie Kent, Adam Sklute, Troy Schumacher and Christopher Wheeldon in signing a pledge to end the practice of yellowface onstage. We touched base with Pazcoguin to hear about how this initiative came to be, and what she and Chan have in the works for the future.

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Site Network
New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin. Photo by Nick Nakahara, Courtesy Pazcoguin.

As conversations in the ballet world about race and representation have opened up in the past few years, its most beloved holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, has come under scrutiny as well. Last year New York City Ballet made changes to its second act Chinese Tea variation, removing elements of racial caricature from both the costume and makeup and the choreography.

NYCB soloist Georgina Pazcoguin, who is part Filipino, was one of the voices fighting for that change. This year, as companies and schools worldwide are gearing up for Nutcracker season, Pazcoguin, along with former dancer and arts administrator Phil Chan, is back with a new campaign. Final Bow For Yellowface is an online platform dedicated to educating companies and schools on how to veer away from offensive Asian stereotypes (yellowface) and providing resources on how to make those changes. The site also lets readers join dance world luminaries including Virginia Johnson, Julie Kent, Adam Sklute, Troy Schumacher and Christopher Wheeldon in signing a pledge to end the practice of yellowface onstage. We touched base with Pazcoguin to hear about how this initiative came to be, and what she and Chan have in the works for the future.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin. Photo by Nick Nakahara, Courtesy Pazcoguin.

As conversations in the ballet world about race and representation have opened up in the past few years, its most beloved holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, has come under scrutiny as well. Last year New York City Ballet made changes to its second act Chinese Tea variation, removing elements of racial caricature from both the costume and makeup and the choreography.

NYCB soloist Georgina Pazcoguin, who is part Filipino, was one of the voices fighting for that change. This year, as companies and schools worldwide are gearing up for Nutcracker season, Pazcoguin, along with former dancer and arts administrator Phil Chan, is back with a new campaign. Final Bow For Yellowface is an online platform dedicated to educating companies and schools on how to veer away from offensive Asian stereotypes (yellowface) and providing resources on how to make those changes. The site also lets readers join dance world luminaries including Virginia Johnson, Julie Kent, Adam Sklute, Troy Schumacher and Christopher Wheeldon in signing a pledge to end the practice of yellowface onstage. We touched base with Pazcoguin to hear about how this initiative came to be, and what she and Chan have in the works for the future.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin. Photo by Nick Nakahara, Courtesy Pazcoguin.

As conversations in the ballet world about race and representation have opened up in the past few years, its most beloved holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, has come under scrutiny as well. Last year New York City Ballet made changes to its second act Chinese Tea variation, removing elements of racial caricature from both the costume and makeup and the choreography.

NYCB soloist Georgina Pazcoguin, who is part Filipino, was one of the voices fighting for that change. This year, as companies and schools worldwide are gearing up for Nutcracker season, Pazcoguin, along with former dancer and arts administrator Phil Chan, is back with a new campaign. Final Bow For Yellowface is an online platform dedicated to educating companies and schools on how to veer away from offensive Asian stereotypes (yellowface) and providing resources on how to make those changes. The site also lets readers join dance world luminaries including Virginia Johnson, Julie Kent, Adam Sklute, Troy Schumacher and Christopher Wheeldon in signing a pledge to end the practice of yellowface onstage. We touched base with Pazcoguin to hear about how this initiative came to be, and what she and Chan have in the works for the future.

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Style & Beauty
Tiler Peck's CFDA Fashion Fund red lip also makes for the perfect Nutcracker makeup. Photo via Instagram, Rebecca de Ravenel

Earlier this week, New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck gave us some major onstage makeup inspiration while attending an offstage event. While walking the red carpet at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund gala, Peck's beauty look was still perfectly suited for the ballet with her top knot hairstyle and stage-worthy red lip. Peck's makeup artist for the night, Daniel Duran, shared his exact breakdown on the look, working exclusively with beauty brand Chantecaille. So, whether you're in need of a waterproof brow pencil, volumizing mascara or long-lasting red lip this Nutcracker season, we've got you covered.

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Just for Fun
Mackenzie Foy as Clara and Keira Knightly as Sugar Plum star in this new Nutcracker spin-off. Photo by Laurie Sparham, Courtesy Disney Enterprises, Inc.

If there's one thing that dancers know well, it's The Nutcracker. From the minutiae of the plot to the choreography to Tchaikovsky's timeless score, we've got it down.

Disney's new holiday film, The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, released in theaters November 2, is not a retelling of the ballet's story, and it's not a dance movie. Nevertheless, we think there's plenty in it for bunheads to love (like Misty Copeland). Don't believe us? First, watch this featurette featuring Copeland, and then read on for four reasons why you might want to take a break from your Nut rehearsals to head to the movies.

Disney's The Nutcracker and The Four Realms - "On Set with Misty Copeland" Featurette www.youtube.com

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Just for Fun
Mackenzie Foy as Clara and Keira Knightly as Sugar Plum star in this new Nutcracker spin-off. Photo by Laurie Sparham, Courtesy Disney Enterprises, Inc.

If there's one thing that dancers know well, it's The Nutcracker. From the minutiae of the plot to the choreography to Tchaikovsky's timeless score, we've got it down.

Disney's new holiday film, The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, released in theaters November 2, is not a retelling of the ballet's story, and it's not a dance movie. Nevertheless, we think there's plenty in it for bunheads to love (like Misty Copeland). Don't believe us? First, watch this featurette featuring Copeland, and then read on for four reasons why you might want to take a break from your Nut rehearsals to head to the movies.

Disney's The Nutcracker and The Four Realms - "On Set with Misty Copeland" Featurette www.youtube.com

Keep reading... Show less
Just for Fun
Mackenzie Foy as Clara and Keira Knightly as Sugar Plum star in this new Nutcracker spin-off. Photo by Laurie Sparham, Courtesy Disney Enterprises, Inc.

If there's one thing that dancers know well, it's The Nutcracker. From the minutiae of the plot to the choreography to Tchaikovsky's timeless score, we've got it down.

Disney's new holiday film, The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, released in theaters November 2, is not a retelling of the ballet's story, and it's not a dance movie. Nevertheless, we think there's plenty in it for bunheads to love (like Misty Copeland). Don't believe us? First, watch this featurette featuring Copeland, and then read on for four reasons why you might want to take a break from your Nut rehearsals to head to the movies.

Disney's The Nutcracker and The Four Realms - "On Set with Misty Copeland" Featurette www.youtube.com

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Just for Fun
Misty Copeland as the Ballerina Princess in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Photo Courtesy Disney.

It's August—the sun is shining, summer intensives are winding down, and Nutcracker seems very far away. But this new trailer for Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is already getting us in the holiday mood. While this modern take on classic holiday story, in theaters November 2, is not a dance film, it does include mega-stars Misty Copeland and Sergei Polunin as the Ballerina Princess and Nutcracker Prince.

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Dancers Trending
NYCB's snow scene. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB

As any good bunhead would tell you, for me, Nutcracker is a yearly tradition as old as leaving cookies out for Santa Claus. But this year, I got to experience it with fresh eyes by taking both my 35-year-old fiancé and my 5-year-old nephew for their first times.

I didn't plan on being a Nutcracker evangelist. But my fiancé Brent decided he really, really wanted to see it, and my mother decided that Nutcracker tickets were really what I should give my nephew Robbie for Christmas. So I found myself taking Brent with me to New York City Ballet, and Robbie to San Francisco Ballet while I was home for the holidays.

And experiencing it with them made me realize just how much those of us who've seen and performed Nutcracker dozens of time take for granted. Their reactions made me see the ballet in a whole new light:

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Breaking Stereotypes
Samrawit Saleem, photo by Angela Sterling, via PNB

Two questions I'm often asked as an advocate for diversity in ballet are, "Do you think ballet organizations are genuine?" and, "Do you think it's changing?"

Quite honestly, there are times when I am not so certain. Then there are days when I get texts and Facebook messages alerting me to a story that reinforces my belief that ballet might just be shifting.

One such moment was in late November when Andrea Long-Naidu texted me the image of Pacific Northwest Ballet's Clara, Samrawit Saleem. There she was, seated on the floor in her party dress, gazing down lovingly at her Nutcracker with an elegant use of épaulement. Andrea called me, "Theresa, she's gorgeous, she's brown and look at her hair!!" She was referring to Saleem's double strand twists that were styled half-up half-down. My mouth was agape.

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Health & Body
Kretzschmar as Sugarplum Fairy. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB

Nutcracker season starts today at many ballet companies, including New York City Ballet. For corps members like Claire Kretzschmar, that means an always demanding schedule reaches a whole new level of busy. Here's how she keeps herself going.

Kretzschmar in the Coffee variation. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB.

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Popular
The Joffrey Ballet's "The Nutcracker." Photo by Cheryl Mann

Since Thanksgiving is finally here, it's officially time to talk Nutcracker. With countless productions taking place between now and Christmas (and even some through the new year), we've been keeping tabs on Instagram to check in on rehearsals. Whether you're obsessed with all things Sugar Plum Fairy or the snow scene is more your speed, we've got your first look at the holiday classic.

We have a feeling even the Boston Ballet dancing bear couldn't keep up with second soloist Lawrence Rines' tricks in Russian.

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What Dancers Eat

'Tis the season to have some fun in the kitchen. If you want to get more creative than simply baking another pumpkin pie, try these Nutcracker-themed treats—created by and for dancers. These recipes from former Boston Ballet and Joffrey Ballet dancers were first published in Dance Magazine's December 1990 issue. Today, they're still guaranteed to turn any holiday party or dressing room into a true Land of the Sweets.

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For many dancers, Thanksgiving signals the kickoff of Nutcracker performances. But right now—that is, the calm before the magical winter storm—is the perfect time to start planning your survival strategies. Though it's certainly important to think about how you'll fuel your body, stay rested and ward off injury and illness, it's also necessary to build in some fun. Try these four light-hearted ideas to help you power through a marathon of performances. Cheers!

Photo by Jordan Matter, via dancersamongus.com

Via zadiesmith.com

Start a book club with your fellow dancers. It'll give you something to discuss in the dressing room besides the daily tally of your aches and pains. (We recommend Zadie Smith's new novel, Swing Time. While it's not a book solely about dance, it tackles identity, race and class as it traces the lives of two women with divergent paths. Their common bond? Shared dance classes when they were young girls, both from poor families in London. Lovers of tap and old-fashioned movie musicals will also appreciate the references to the Nicholas Brothers and several of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' routines.)

Have a movie night—while you foam roll. Whether it's a cheesy holiday flick on cable or your favorite Christmas movie—like It's a Wonderful Life or A Charlie Brown Christmas—vegging in front of the tube is totally necessary during Nutcracker. If you're looking for dance-related fare, try these options:

— Hairspray LIVE! because who doesn't love a feel-good musical? Airs December 7 at 8 pm Eastern/7 pm Central on NBC.

— A Nutcracker Christmas, a Hallmark Channel original movie that's part love story, part ballet flick and stars former American Ballet Theatre soloist Sascha Radetsky and young phenom Sophia Lucia of "Dance Moms" fame. Premieres December 10 at 8 pm Eastern/7 pm Central on the Hallmark Channel. Click here for additional air times.

Via Getting to the Nutcracker

Getting to the Nutcracker is worth a watch if you're looking for some inspiration. The documentary follows students at the Los Angeles–based Marat Daukayev Ballet Theatre from Nutcracker auditions to the final curtain call. Available to rent on Amazon or stream for free with Amazon Prime.

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker brings a quintessential Nutcracker experience to your living room. New York City Ballet's version from 1993 features big names like Darci Kistler, Damian Woetzel, Kyra Nichols and Wendy Whelan. Oh, and a little boy by the name of Macaulay Culkin. Available to rent on Amazon.

Be an audience member. On a night that you're not performing, reverse your role and sit in the house of another dance production. Whether you take a trip to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular or watch a friend in her company's Nutcracker, seeing another show will give you fresh perspective and help reawaken the magic of the season, especially if you're feeling rundown.

Angela Cranford/MSG Photos, courtesy MSG.

Pull out your apron and pre-heat the oven. Holiday baking isn't just delicious (warm cookies with gooey, melty chocolate...mmm), it can be therapeutic. Turn on some relaxing music, bake solo and surprise your company with treats. Or, schedule a free afternoon to bake with your dance friends. If you're stuck for recipes, try these three that the Rockettes shared with us.

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Some dreams really do come true: This Thursday, September 8, you can be a fly on the wall in a rehearsal with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. And you don't even have to leave the house. From 11:30 am to 1:30 pm Central time (12:30 to 2:30 pm Eastern), Joffrey Ballet will present a live-streamed rehearsal of Wheeldon's brand-new Nutcracker. All you have to do is visit the company's YouTube channel during those hours.

Wheeldon in a recent Nutcracker rehearsal. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

While details about which sections of the ballet will be previewed are under wraps, we're excited to get a first glimpse at Wheeldon's take on the holiday classic, which will have its world premiere December 10–30. This won't be your typical Nutcracker, though. Wheeldon has transferred the ritzy tale to a more humble setting: Clara is replaced by Marie, the daughter of a poor immigrant family living in Chicago during the 1893 World's Fair. The company is working with a stellar production team, including puppeteer Basil Twist, who's no stranger to ballet. (He previously collaborated with Wheeldon on The Winter's Tale and Cinderella.)

Wheeldon with Amanda Assucena during a 2014 Swan Lake rehearsal. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

This lunchtime livestream isn't the first time the company has given fans a behind-the-scenes look at a full length. In 2014, it presented a rehearsal when Wheeldon was remounting his Swan Lake. In anticipation of today's event, Joffrey Ballet dancer Amanda Assucena recalled her previous experience. "In the beginning we were all a little nervous and excited," she says. "If you mess it up, the whole world’s watching. It’s a little scary, but I think eventually I just forgot about it. The cameras try to stay out of our way." Now Assucena is learning several Nutcracker roles—Marie, her mother and the grand pas de deux—as Wheeldon crafts them.

In addition to the dancing, viewers will also be treated to an interview between artistic director Ashley Wheater and Wheeldon during a rehearsal break. Merry (very early) Christmas!

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