Watching Nutcracker with Two First-Timers: My 35-Year-Old Fiancé & 5-Year-Old Nephew
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:
Biggest pre-performance question:
Nephew: "Will there be any dancing dogs?"
Fiancé: "How come there are only two non-white people in the audience?"
Response to the "Please turn off your cell phone" announcement:
Nephew: "I like this part."
My nephew loved watching other kids dance. SFBS students in the party scene. Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy SFB.
About seven minutes into party scene:
Nephew: "This is my favorite part."
Question about Drosselmeyer:
Fiancé: "That's not Ebenezer Scrooge, is it?"
No, not Scrooge. Sean Suozzi as Drosselmeyer in NYCB's George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB
Nephew: (complete mesmerized silence)
Fiancé: "That was that's tip top. I mean, breathtaking. I totally got lost in it, like I forgot I was at a show."
Land of the Sweets sets and costumes:
Fiancé: "It's like Candyland meets a Fabergé egg."
Fiancé: "Well, all right. She was very good."
Nephew: "I want something to eat."
Candy cane divertissement:
Fiancé: "I knew they'd use the Home Alone music!"
Daniel Ulbricht as Candy Cane, to the music also known as the Trepak Russian dance. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB
On Sugarplum Fairy:
Nephew: "When is the show gonna be over?"
Fiancé: "That was magic."
Lauren Lovette as the magical Sugarplum Fairy. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy NYCB
The cast of Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise in rehearsal. Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy The Shed
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed, a new venue in New York City.