Nutcracker can either be the most exciting time of the season or the most dreaded, depending on how you look at it. On the one hand, you’ve probably performed The Nutcracker at least every year since you were five years old. The beautiful Tchaikovsky score quickly can turn into fingernails on a chalkboard for the seasoned dancer. I know when I go to my local Starbucks and they’re playing Nutcracker over the speakers it makes me want to pull my hair out. If you’re like me and you have come to hate Nutcracker, read my tips to get excited about this time of year once again!

Look at it with Childlike Enchantment

Do you remember the first time you performed in this ballet? I do! I was 10 years old and I was in the children’s cast of The Joffrey Ballet’s version. This was my first experience on a real professional stage, and my first time performing with a professional company. I will never forget how that excitement felt of my first rehearsal with the company, my first dress rehearsal, and my first time performing on the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. This experience is truly made me want to pursue ballet professionally. Whenever I get tired or feel ungrateful for my job, I remind myself of what the 10-year-old version of myself felt like around Nutcracker season. I also like to remember how enamored I was by the story, sets, and beauty of this ballet when I was a kid. Even snow scene, which for a corps dancer can get very uninvolving, is a beautiful and elegant scene. I picture what it felt like to play in the snow as a kid and it breathes new life into my dancing of this ballet that I’ve done over a hundred times.

Learn New Parts that You Haven’t Done Before

Since Nutcracker season comes around every year, it’s a great opportunity to learn new roles and maybe even perform them! Corps dancers often even get to perform the principal role of Clara! Since the directors know that everyone is so versed in the score and the ballet, it seems to give them more freedom to give people more opportunities. Even if you haven’t been assigned a new role, stand in the back and keep yourself occupied by learning something new!!

Get in the Christmas Spirit

If nothing else, The Nutcracker can remind you of the magic that you used to feel as a kid surrounding Christmas. Although unfortunately I don’t get as excited for Christmas as I once did, The Nutcracker always helps me get in the spirit of Christmas!