A Look Behind the Nutcracker Scenes

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A traditional way to celebrate the holidays for some families is to go watch The Nutcracker. This ballet production is about a young girl named Clara.

A traditional way to celebrate the holidays for some families is to go watch The Nutcracker. This ballet production is about a young girl named Clara. When Clara receives a Nutcracker at her Christmas party, she falls in love with it. Later that night, when all the guests have gone, the Nutcracker comes alive. He fights a battle with the evil Mouse king. The Nutcracker wins the battle and along with that, he turns into a prince. The prince takes Clara to the Land of the Sweets where everyone there welcomes her by dancing.

Colorado has many Nutcracker productions. One of those happens to be my dance school, Littleton Dance Academy (LDA) and Littleton Youth Ballet Company. I thought it would be interesting to tell readers what happens behind the scenes. The directors of this production are Alison and Bobbi Jaramillo. They have been producing the Nutcracker since 2005. This year will be their 8th Nutcracker.

In order to put on a great show there is a ton of preparing to do. At the studio about 120 hours are spent in rehearsals. The directors have to come up with lots of choreography. Some of the dances like the transformation scene, which is when the Nutcracker turns into a prince and he takes Clara to the Land of the Sweets, never have the same choreography. Other parts like The Waltz of the Flowers have been the same for the last 5 years. In the Battle scene there are always new parts being added, for example the rag dolls. The directors then change the dance so that the dolls join the soldiers and the mice.

The other very important part is the props. David Jaramillo is the property master for the Colorado Ballet. He has made some props for both LDA and the Colorado Ballet that look exactly the same. In the Land of the Sweets there are cooks, who carry big cakes that David made himself. These cakes are very detailed, and they are all a different color and have a fun feature whether it’s a teddy bear on top or a balloon. David Jaramillo also made all the sets. LDA has been collecting old fashion dolls to make the party scene more realistic. Costumes are also a big deal because most of them are handmade. There are about 400 costumes in the show and they will keep adding more. The Mother Ginger costumes are old outfits from the English National Ballet and the Ragdoll’s are old costumes from the Colorado Ballet.

LDA’s Nutcracker is very traditional. “I love the idea of families going to see it every year so we wanted our production to be very family friendly,” said Alison Jaramillo. LDA does have a few differences from other Nutcrackers however. Theirs is based in Littleton in the early 1900s. At that point girls weren’t wearing long pantaloons so we can see more footwork, according to Alison. They have also added some parts such as Candy Canes, Cooks, Jesters, Rag Dolls, and Marionette Dolls.

In the performance there are 118 dancers, including a few professional adult dancers along with kids who are students at LDA, and even some talented parents who dance in the party scene.

Emily Winters, who has been in the Nutcracker for 3 years, said, “I saw the Nutcracker when I was little and decided I wanted to start dancing.” Emily’s favorite role so far is the Chinese dance, which she is performing on pointe this year. Gemma Nailer said she loves the Nutcracker and all the practicing. “It is a lot of hard work, and you have to put lots of effort into it,” she said.

LDA’s production of the Nutcracker will be on December 1st at 2 and 7pm and on December 2nd at 2pm. The show will be at the theater at Colorado Heights University. For more information and tickets go to www.littletonyouthballet.org. Ticket prices start at $14. This performance is a great show that everyone will enjoy.