Sure, everyone knows the classic story of young Clara who journeys into an enchanting holiday dream thanks to a magical toy Nutcracker. Since The Nutcracker debuted 125 years ago, it’s cemented its place as a perennial holiday must-see.
We can think of 100 reasons to love The Nutcracker. But, in the midst of the 10th year celebration of Nashville Ballet’s Nashville’s Nutcracker (our city’s very own Nutcracker with a charming Music City twist), we wanted to hear it straight from the source—Nashville Ballet!
Nashville Ballet dancers and staff have Nashville’s Nutcracker on the mind all year long—and we mean all year. Company dancers spend approximately 300-320 hours rehearsing the performance, and the staff watches the production from the audience dozens of times each season.
So, we threw this question to the people who know it so well: What is your reason to love Nashville’s Nutcracker?
1. Jeanette Barker, Development Director: I always look forward to watching our dancers’ Oscar-worthy performances as very specific characters in the Party Scene—and I literally see something new every time! They each bring incredible performances, and if you zoom in on one dancer at a time, you will see wonderful and often hilarious vignettes, as each brings their own story to the stage. Hint: Watch for the Cuban Ambassador’s Wife who has a little too much to drink!
2. Billy Ditty, Costume Shop Manager: For me, it’s watching the youth cast kids try on their costumes for the first time. They really do feel the emotion of being a part of something bigger than their normal lives. It’s the same honest glee I still feel when I see Clara’s Christmas tree transform into a sparkling 30-foot tree or when the Sugar Plum Fairy’s signature music plays quietly.
3. Brittany Carlton, Marketing Manager: I love Nashville’s Nutcracker because it makes me feel like a child again. You can sit in the audience and watch the kids around you delightedly bounce in their seats, but I would challenge any Grinch to experience the performance and not feel their hearts grow three sizes. When Uncle Drosselmeyer transforms the Christmas tree, it’s over for me. I’m transported back decades to a time when magic was very real—and you can feel your neighbors in the audience, no matter their ages, join you on that journey. Even when I’m working the show, I make an effort to watch and feel that moment, because inspiring that sense of childlike wonder is why we do this every year.
4. Sarah Cordia, Company Dancer: I love getting to interact directly with Clara when dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy. It’s not often that we’re able to share the stage with the rising generation of ballet dancers. This year, all four of the Claras are students of mine in School of Nashville Ballet, so it’s been extra special.
5. Lisa Dixon French, Chief Operating Officer: I love the way Nashville’s Nutcracker brings the whole community together in the holiday spirit. Young children, parents and grandparents all come together to experience the magic of this production. I especially love seeing the excitement on the children’s faces when they see the Sugar Plum Fairy on stage for the first time.
6. Molly Gibbons Golinvaux, Strategic Development Manager: My favorite part of Nashville’s Nutcracker is the associated Holiday Magic program. Nashville Ballet gives 2,500 free Nashville’s Nutcracker tickets to 60 local social service organizations and schools so they can share this experience with the people they serve. Very few of my Music City experiences include such a diverse cross-section of our community, and I love seeing ballet as a tool to bring our city together.
7. Sharyn Mahoney, Director of Artistic Operations: The youth cast is my reason to love Nashville’s Nutcracker—all 296 of them! I’ve been working with the Nashville’s Nutcracker youth cast since the production’s debut 10 years ago, and every year they steal the show. One of my favorite parts is watching the production through their eyes and remembering the magic and wonder that they’re experiencing—it’s a fantastic reminder of the season.
8. Jon Upleger, Company Dancer: Paul Vasterling [Nashville Ballet Artistic Director & CEO] was really thoughtful in his approach to this version of The Nutcracker, which throws tribute to Nashville. As an audience member, when you see things that are familiar to you, it makes the experience extra memorable. And for us as the dancers, the feeling is just the same. We live in this community, we own homes here, we’re a part of Nashville. It’s important for us that we’re able to be a part of a production like this as well.
9. Katie Vasilopoulos, Company Dancer: Nashville’s Nutcracker is special in that it is one ballet that most of the company dancers watch from the wings during each performance. Everyone is showing their support from the side of the stage and making sure they don’t miss a beat—especially when there’s someone dancing a new role. That overwhelming support is what’s magical about it.
10. Paul Vasterling, Artistic Director & CEO: The dancers are my reason to love Nashville’s Nutcracker. The production features our organization’s dancers across the board—from the professional ballerina in the company to the tiniest student in School of Nashville Ballet. Watching our artists all performing together on stage is one of my favorite things.
You’ve heard it here — 10 reasons (for 10 years!) to love Nashville’s Nutcracker as told by Nashville Ballet. So, what’s your reason to love Nashville’s Nutcracker? There are only SIX performances left this season to find out Thursday, December 21 through Saturday, December 23 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall. Get your tickets here.