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Dozens of Nutcrackers

As I was going through some old photos today, I thought about just how unique each company or school’s production of the Nutcracker is. The thing that stuck out most to me was just how different the costumes are. In some productions Marzipan is Mirliton, the Russian dance can also be Candy Cane, and some Sugar Plum fairies don’t even wear purple. Here are a few photos I found interesting just to show the fun variety of Nutcrackers!

Waltz of the Flowers costumes between shows.

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Arabian is a Peacock.

The Sugar "Peach" Fairy, her Cavalier and Clara.

The snow scene...my favorite.

Found this in a Newspaper article. What a jump!

A great idea for the perfect snow flake!

Hope your Nutcracker performances are going well!

Nutcracker Rehearsal Tips

If you are like most ballet dancers right now, you are preparing for December Nutcracker shows. Nutcracker is my favorite time of year because it helps you to gauge where you have made improvements from the previous year. Whether you are performing new or the same roles in your school’s or company’s Nutcracker the following tips will help prevent you from getting burned out and allow for successful Nutcracker shows.

Tip #1: Perform Every Day: To keep a role from getting stale whether you are new to it or are repeating it from previous years, you must become the best actor/actress possible. I know you have heard this time and time again but you must pretend like you are on stage every time that you rehearse your role. If you approach each role as just going through the motions this may show come stage time. If you approach the role with the energy and enthusiasm that you would use in a performance it will be easier to do so on stage (and even help with nervousness!!).

Tip #2: Set Goals: Approach each rehearsal with a goal. Think something like “I will really focus on pointing my feet at the point where I usually get tired” or “I will hold my arabesque balance longer today” or “I will work on musicality.” In one of the ballet companies that I danced with, I performed the role of Sugar Plum Fairy three years in a row. If I hadn’t set goals for myself each year, I would have been so bored with the role. Each year I approached the role differently so that it would still feel new and fresh.

Tip #3: Visualize: Sometimes the most productive rehearsal for dancers can be one that involves no physical movement at all! Try this exercise- Play the music from your Nutcracker dance on your ipod. Lay down with your eyes closed and listen to the music, envisioning each step. Now envision yourself performing each step perfectly and seamlessly, the way that you want. This will help tremendously in rehearsals when it comes time to perform tricky dance sequences. I used to practice this before bed each night.

Tip #4: Don’t Stress: Nutcracker is all about having fun, right? So don’t sweat the small stuff. If you make a mistake on stage don’t let it show on your face. The audience will never know.

I wish you all a successful Nutcracker time whether you are performing with your school or company. Stay focused but keep it fun and you will be on your way to your best Nutcracker ballet performance yet!

Nutcracker Ballet Partnerning Advice

Question: Hi Nikol! Love your facebook page and hoping to purchase your ebooks soon. I had a question regarding some acting difficulties in Nutcracker. I am Clara and my directors really want a strong “connection” between her and the nephew/nutcracker prince. There are times where I have to really look at him with “affection” and mean it! Its hard! Do you have any advice for connecting with your partner? Thanks! ~ Colleen

Partnering isn't one sided. It takes two!

Answer: Hello Colleen. First off, I would like to say congratulations to you on landing the part of Clara in The Nutcracker. As a young dancer, performing the role of Clara was one of those times that I remember the most vividly and had the most fun dancing on stage. Now we all know the story of The Nutcracker, but I want you to find the book (if you don’t already have it) and really read the story. While you are reading the story, I want you to take careful note of the emotions that Clara is feeling. She is delighted by the gift that Drosselmeyer gives her, overwhelmed at this magical land that she didn’t know existed, enchanted by the prince who so bravely battled the Mouse King, etc. Write down a list of these different emotions. Now, think of the different instances in the ballet where you have to convey these emotions through choreography.

If you can immerse yourself completely in the role of Clara and focus on the story you are trying to convey, you shouldn’t have any awkward moments with the Prince. What I used to do is imagine the Prince to be a boy that I had a crush on. I know it sounds silly, but it works. So whether it’s Justin Bieber or Taylor Lautner, pretend like the “Prince” standing in front of you is him and feel what an honor it is to be led through the Kingdom of the Sweets by such a “superstar.” (Just don’t tell the prince that you are doing this! lol)

The other thing that can make you feel more comfortable around your partner is getting to know him a little better. If you two can become friends and have an awesome open communication that will also transfer well on stage.

Most of all, don’t be shy. Just as you should feel honored to be dancing with the Nutcracker Prince, you should feel even more honored to have been chosen to dance the role of Clara! Cherish the next two months in your “reign” as Clara and most importantly, have fun! Oh, and don’t forget to email me (nikol@balletaudition.com) to let me know how it goes!

Committed to Your Dancing,

Nikol Klein
www.balletaudition.com
www.balletstrength.com

Back to School Ballet

The summer may be coming to an end, but you have so much to look forward to with the new school year and ballet school year starting. Before you know it, Nutcracker will be just around the corner and you will be getting ready for summer program auditions all over again.

That’s why now is the best time to work on your ballet strength and audition preparation in anticipation of the busy months to come.

Don’t let your competition get ahead of you this year. Take control of your career as a dancer!

Luckily I have everything you need to know already written out for you in my two books that you can order super easy online. (you don’t even have to wait for them to ship!)

You can find my books >>HERE<<

Also, be sure to check out Ballet Strength© in the upcoming issue of Pointe Magazine!

I’m looking forward to helping you!

Happy Dancing,
Nikol Klein

The information in this email is copyright © protected.

Performance Nervousness Part 1

 

Intermission-during one of my pre-performance rituals.

 

 

Through my extensive career as a professional dancer, I have observed some pretty strange pre-performance rituals. I have seen it all, and tried it all. So what works?

The truth is, not everyone is the same. There is no magic cure for nervousness, but there are things that you can do to calm yourself in the wings.

In Part 1 of Performance Nervousness, we will take the first step. Identifying the type of nervousness you are feeling.

Here are the categories of nervousness that I have defined through my years of dancing. See which category you best fit into or have felt in the past.

Prepared Nervousness– You feel well rehearsed, excited, pumped up. Maybe your family is out in the audience. You have a positive outlook on the upcoming performance.

Unprepared Nervousness– It feels like you are going into unfamiliar territory. You are doubtful, almost fearful. Maybe you were thrown into a role last-minute or were an understudy.

Combination of both– You are prepared but doubting yourself and your abilities. Even though you feel ready to perform a role, you are worried about uncontrollable factors.

Over-Prepared– You have rehearsed perfectly every day. Maybe you have even performed this role consecutive years. You are not nervous. After the performance you may even feel let down, although your performance went well.

Competitive Nervousness– You feel pressure. If you can perform well you will get a promotion. You want to outshine other dancers. Maybe your director or teacher watches the show from the wings.

Now that you have identified the type of nervousness you are feeling or have felt, we will move on to the solution. Stay posted for Part 2 of my Performance Nervousness series! As always your comments are greatly appreciated.

Stay tuned…

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Author

How to be Nutcracker Ready

It’s our favorite time of the year…Nutcracker time! Young dancers all over the world are jumping with joy and bragging about the roles they have been cast in. Professional Dancers are sharpening their pencils in roles they have been dancing for years. What can you do to make sure you are prepared or in the pro’s cases avoid Nutcracker burnout?

Sugarplum Pas de Deux

Whether you are dancing a new role this year or repeating last years, you can use the same techniques to look beautiful and dance technically sound.

Music is a huge part of the equation. We all know the Nutcracker music all too well, but if you listen closely enough you may hear something new. Explore your musicality. If you are performing with an Orchestra, dance with the music. Listen to the music, don’t just dance on auto-pilot.

Nutcracker is a great time to work on your performance skills and stage presence. If you’ve performed this role before, approach this year with more confidence! Show the audience that you are comfortable in this role.

Improve your technique on these roles. Last year you did a double pirouette in Waltz of the Flowers…why not throw in a triple this year? This of course does not apply for the corp de ballet, but is a great way for a soloist to show off their stuff. Careful though…some artistic directors get angry if you do too much!

Stand out in the Corps de Ballet! As a kid, I always watched the corps member who smiled the most and looked like she was having the most fun. While you are dancing imagine that all eyes are on you! There are subtle ways that you can keep from blending in.

Enjoy yourself this Nutcracker season! Remember, Summer School and Company auditions are right around the corner and with auditions comes added stress.Learn more about how you can get rid of nerves with The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide.

Happy Dancing!

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer / Certified Personal Trainer & Nutritionist