Behind the scenes of The Nutcracker

Group picture of some dancers from the show.

Taylor Trinidad, staff writer

Last month The Dance Company performed its Christmas show, The Nutcracker, at CAST in downtown Clearfield. Everyone who came to the show got to see the spectacular performances by many talented dancers, but what not everyone gets to see is what goes on behind the scenes of the show. Many people may be curious as to how the dancers stretched, how they warmed up their feet to be able to dance on the very tips of their toes in pointe shoes, or just simply what went on with all of the dancers when they weren’t not on stage.

Although all of the dances had been learned and perfected as much as possible, lots of hard work went into each show night. Dancers were busy doing hair and makeup, putting on costumes, stretching their legs and feet, and helping little girls get ready too. As nervous as everyone was, everybody had a great time laughing and talking with all of their dance friends while they got ready.

In addition to dancers, there were many other hard-working people helping to make the production a success. There were many people working sound, lighting, curtains, props, set, helping younger kids, and getting punch and cookies ready for intermission.

What many people think about and wonder about when they hear ballet is the pointe shoes, wondering how the dancers can stand, turn, and dance on top of their toes. A lot of work went into these shoes on show nights. Many dancers, including myself, would prepare their feet in different, yet similar ways. Most of us would start by putting medical tape on our toes to prevent blisters from forming. Some people would then put toe spacers between their toes to keep them aligned right, but not every dancer needed them. After that every dancer would put on what are called toe pads that slide over your toes like half of a sock, which added some cushion and also helps to protect from blisters. Then dancers simply would pull their tights over their feet and slipped on the shoes carefully, before they intricately tied the ribbons around their ankles.

As for stretching and preparing, each dancer had their own way. Anyone with pointe shoes would have to stretch their feet to make sure they had maximum flexibility in their feet to prevent injuries on stage. Most dancers simply did splits or touched their toes to stretch out their legs. There was rosin backstage that mainly pointe dancers would use to keep their shoes from slipping on stage.

As for everyone’s favorite part, the costumes and makeup, much time was spent preparing. Everyone had their specific costumes for each dance with hair pieces to match. There were dressing rooms for each age group that helped to keep these things in order. Much makeup was applied to each face and plenty of hairspray to keep buns or curls from falling out during the middle of the show.

Although the show was a huge success, there were a few obstacles that were faced beforehand. A week before one of the dancers fractured her foot, meaning there was one less person in multiple dances, including my duet which had to be turned into a solo. After much time was spent fixing dances with one less person, someone else had to drop out of the show during show week, meaning dances had to be fixed again to work with even less people. Luckily, everyone approached the situation calmly and maturely and the show still went on successfully.

The famous Christmas ballet The Nutcracker was a huge success for everyone involved at The Dance Company and CAST, and hopefully this holiday tradition will continue for years into the future.