Nutcracker, and The One Role

November 28, 2001

There’s one question every aspiring or newly minted professional ballerina knows the answer to: What’s your dream role?  Whether it’s Odette/Odile, Aurora, or Nikiya, every one of us aspires to one ballet, or one role in particular.  Once we get that part, we think, we’ve got it made–we’ve arrived.


For me, that part was the Dew Drop Fairy in my youth company’s production of Nutcracker.  We did (mostly) the Balanchine choreography, and I loved learning the part and couldn’t wait to run in behind the flowers and make my big, splashy, arabesque-y entrance.  When the evening finally came, I remember having such a great time (even though I fell out of some turns).  I felt like a real ballerina.  I shared the part with another girl, though, and had to dance in the Flowers corps for some other shows, and I really didn’t like that.  I felt a bit like I was wasting my time on corps parts when I was so clearly suited to this solo role.  But now that I hardly perform anymore, I regret thinking that some parts were worth less than others.  I just miss getting out there and having a good time.


NYCB principal Wendy Whelan has said that she tries to make every role she dances her favorite role, and while I know most of us might never climb as high as she has in the ballet world, there’s something to be said for thinking this way about everything you dance.  Especially now, during Nutcracker season, when so many of us aren’t getting the solos we know we deserve, and have to fill out the corps or party scene.  There’s something so wonderful about performing in general: getting to the theatre and settling into your dressing room, putting on makeup, doing your hair, putting on your costume, and the delicious anticipation of applause.  While I know it’s hard to see past the disappointing prospect of being yet another snowflake or flower or party guest, I urge you to feel joy and pride in what you are doing.  Without you, the evening wouldn’t be complete, and everything you do onstage counts towards making the performance a great one.  And don’t forget–you’re dancing because you love to.  So feel the love every time you dance.