Winter Wonderlands: One Student’s Nutcracker Experiences

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Winter Wonderlands: One Student’s Nutcracker Experiences

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When Mt. Greylock junior Maddy Art first started dancing in the Nutcracker, she experienced something magical. “I vividly remember when the snow started falling in the snow scene and being like, oh my gosh, it’s snowing on stage! I was just so in awe and I was like ok, I have to be a part of this,” said Art.

Twelve years and twelve Nutcracker seasons later, Art is still at it. Ranging in roles from a five-year-old reindeer to a twelve-year-old playing Clara (the lead), she has seen it all. After all of the years and experience, she can still confidently and passionately say that Nutcracker season is the highlight of her year.

Based on the story The Nutcracker and the King of Mice by E.T.A Hoffman, The Nutcracker tells the story of a young German girl who dreams of a Nutcracker Prince and his fierce battle between a Mouse King through dramatic Tchaikovsky music, eloquent dance, and elaborate sets and costumes. Directed by Madeline Cantarella Culpo for 44 years, the Nutcracker production that Art participates in has been a popular opportunity for dancers from around the county, as well as from different studios, to join together in dance. The production includes dancers of all ages, from elementary school novices to adult professionals.

The opportunities that The Nutcracker has brought to Art and other aspiring dancers are significant. The chance to tour alongside professionals is an experience that, according to Art, has taught her important things. From the older dancers, she is able to witness commitment and work ethic as well as just “be in such close proximity to so many people who know so much about the dance world and love the craft of dance,” said Art.

Time management has also been a gained skill from this process, as the rehearsals can last up to ten hours on weekends, which can at times be a struggle on top of a busy high school course load. According to Art, the world of dance transports many dancers into a bubble, where they don’t have to worry or think about anything else but dance. However, dance stress is definitely existent. In many cases, one does not learn about their part in a production until the week of the show. They will audition for weeks and the directors are always watching, looking for the people that they think would be perfect for the parts they need to fill.

As Art has moved up the ladder of Nutcracker roles, she has had the chance to dance in the scene that brought her so much joy as a four-year-old. That joy is not lost, says Art. The only difference is that it is now mixed in with an immense love for dance.