Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Keeping in Classy: The Nutcracker Ballet

 2011 Proctors Nutcracker Commercial

I can still remember the day when my mother and grandmother took me to see The Nutcracker Ballet as a little girl.  For over a decade, when the holiday football games started I would go in the other room and bust out our VHS copy of the New York City Ballet performance.  The last few holiday seasons I've wanted to see the ballet in theater again.  Last year I tried to get tickets in early November but all of the performances were already sold out.  So when Proctors theater released its schedule over the summer, I quickly sent out a message looking for someone to accompany me.  My friend Erica had never seen the ballet and volunteered to come along.  I bought our tickets in August and I was still pressed to find tickets in the sections I wanted.

Right before opening curtain
Two weeks before Christmas, we put on our nice clothes and set off for the theater.  This was one of the reasons I was psyched to go to the ballet.  With my lack of natural grace I avoid wearing clothes I like to lab for risk of acid stains, and make-up is a big no-no in the clean room (rouge and lithography don't go together).  As nice as we looked, we had nothing on the young girls in their Christmas dresses.  It's really hard to beat the excitement of a girl in a velvet dress with a big ribbon at her first ballet.

Theater draped in garlands
Proctors is an ornate old 1920s theater which vividly reminds me of the Auditorium theater in Rochester, NY. The walls and balconies are decorated with red seats reminiscent of skinnier days.  We had awesome seats in center orchestra about half way back (buy holiday show tickets during the summer!).  We had a perfect view of the stage but we weren't going anywhere quickly.  The Northeast Ballet Company with Wendy Whelan and Charles Askegard  from the New York City Ballet preformed the classic childhood tale.  It took me a minute to adjust to the director's vision of the ballet which differed from the 1993 VHS of the NYCB I grew up watching. The Nutcracker character played a fairly minor role, compared to other versions I've seen, and only appeared during the opening scenes.  One especially nostalgic thing for me was watching Wendy Whelan as the Sugar Plum Fairy.  She was Arabian Coffee in my trusting recording and one of my favorite dancers.  To see her preform live after all of these years was a really treat.  The kids throughout the performance were adorable. This one little boy, who couldn't be more than 4 years old, was completely adorable.  He was tiny compared to the rest of the kids and always appeared the be where he was supposed to be but in that clumsy grace of very small child.  He easily could have stolen the show.
Keepsake from the Ballet with my Grandma
After a two hour ballet highlighting the sweets of the holidays, the only logical thing to do was go to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. It's like of law of the Cheesecake Factory that if you eat there you much order cheesecake.  So after a decent-sized meals, we both ordered chocolatey cheesecake and managed to take about two bites before admitting defeat and wrapping up the rest. At the end of the day we felt like happy, well-sugared munchkins excited for the Christmas season which is all I could ask for on a Sunday two weeks before Christmas.

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