By Nina Hall
I am a ballet dancer with Santa Barbara Festival Ballet. On December 9 and 10 we will be doing The Nutcracker at the Arlington theatre. Though the Nutcracker is in December our first rehearsal was September 30th. Up Until The Nutcracker ends all dancer will be in the studio all weekend learning the choreography and perfecting it for the big show.
Most dancers already have their costumes. Anyone who is not in the corps de ballet or a soloist got their costume on September 24th. The Corps and Soloists got their costumes September 30th. Costumes are usually given out early just in case the dancers need to have alterations to their costumes. Sometimes none of the costumes will fit a certain person so we have parents or our seamstress fix the costumes to be bigger, smaller, or whatever the dancer needs. Costumes are one of the most important things in a show. They can make or break the performance.
Once costumes are over with we move on to rehearsals. As I said the very first rehearsal was September 30th. It begins with a warm up class from 10:00am to 11:45am. Then the actual rehearsal begins at 12:00pm and goes until 2:00pm. For one hour we rehearse Waltz of the Snowflakes and for the next hour we rehearse Waltz of the Flowers. For the very first rehearsal we are mainly learning the choreography. Then as the rehearsals move along we begin to rehearse more wearing pointe shoes and we begin to clean the dances. Cleaning is when you run through the dance very slowly without the music so the teacher can see the mistakes and what they need to fix. Once that is over we just run the dance over and over again until it’s absolutely perfect.
Then depending on what role you have you could be at the studio until 6:00. Usually I only have to stay until 3 or 4. It depends on when battle scene begins and ends. I have friends that are in party scene and have to stay until 6:00 every Saturday. Then on Sundays you could also have rehearsal or a photo shoot for the program all day. Sundays are always a little less full but they can still contain many rehearsals. Usually the rehearsal on Sundays are for the littler kids in the show. It often begins at 12 and will go until 5. In that time we rehearse ginger snaps, battle scene, party scene, bakers, 1st mice, Lieutenants, and Little Candy Canes. Each rehearsal is about an hour and can move from room to room.The rehearsals could also be in the middle of the week. A lot of those rehearsals are for soloists. Most soloists are in our SBFB company, so they have company rehearsal mixed with Nutcracker rehearsal meaning that they could be in the studio until 9:30. So not only do the rehearsals begin way before December, but they are also very long and consume most of a dancer’s week.
In the end, because of the dancers’ hard work the show becomes phenomenal. We work our very hardest and it really shows as we dance on the stage. Yes the rehearsals are long, yes they are every day, and yes it is tough, but the Nutcracker and performing are worth the while.