Why We Join The Nutcracker

It’s that time of the year again.  No, I’m not talking back-to-school.  I’m not talking fall leaves or pumpkins or even Halloween.  I’m talking The Nutcracker.

Nutcracker Ballet rehearsals are well underway in ballet companies and schools around the country, and my daughter’s dance school is no exception.  Every year the students stage a charming Nutcracker performance, with spectacular scenery and beautiful costumes and scores of little girls (plus three or four token boys) prancing on the stage dressed as candy canes and angels and gingerbread and flowers.   I highly recommend taking your little ones to their first Nutcracker performance at your local dance school — it’s cheap, close by, not too overwhelming, and they actually put on a beautiful show.

But oh my bleeping Nutcrackers, you have no idea how much effort and chaos lurks behind that giant cardboard Christmas tree.

This is The Pea’s third year in the Nutcracker, and once again we’ve been sucked into the Nutcracker nuttiness.  She’ll be attending rehearsals every single weekend until December — and I’ll be driving her to every single one of them, because her best friend has been cast in a different part in a different act, which means they don’t share any rehearsal time, which means our rehearsal carpool schedule is ruined.  I’ll be paying a $130 participation fee, performance DVD *not* included (she does get a t-shirt included, and for that amount I’m hoping that t-shirt comes with a label that says Juicy Couture). I’ll be volunteering my time with costume repair and backstage monitoring, and I’ll be hitting up my friends and convincing them that they simply must take their kids to see The Pea in the Nutcracker for the third year in a row.

Last weekend I sat through one of her rehearsals and timed her dance:  it’s two minutes long.  And they had learned the whole dance by the second rehearsal.

I know I sound like a Scrooge. I’m actually grateful to the teachers for giving up their weekends to make sure that the kids get not only memorize their steps, but also learn their cues and dance in sync with each other. I get that renting an auditorium and hiring sound guys and purchasing props costs money, and that ticket sales don’t fully cover the amount. But it’s such a huge effort for such a small part!

Then again, I’m actually quite proud of The Pea for committing to such an intense rehearsal schedule, despite the minute role she’s been given (to make things worse, she’s been cast as a gingerbread *boy* — which is not surprising given she’s one of the tallest kids at her level, and there are only three or four boys in the whole dance school, but it still rankles). Despite her disappointment at not being given a longer dance, she’s throwing herself into her role with so much enthusiasm that you’d think she was the Sugarplum Fairy herself.  Besides, I’m actually a big Nutcracker fan, and I’m thrilled that The Pea wants to be part of such a wonderful holiday tradition. It’s an experience that should serve her well, whether she grows up to be a Sugarplum Fairy or Queen of the Boardroom.

Instead of counting rehearsal hours and volunteer hours and participation dollars, I should be counting my blessings, along with my Nutcracker programmes and photos of The Pea dressed as an angel and Chinese tea cookie and gingerbread cookie and whatever role she lands in the future.

And now that I’ve seen the error of my ways, I might even go and shell out an extra 30 bucks for that Nutcracker DVD.

  1. October 1, 2010
  2. October 11, 2010
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