The Magic You May Not Have Noticed

This weekend, we wrapped up our annual production of the Nutcracker Remixed. The show was conceived years ago as a way to allow our dancers to connect to the story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, even if they weren’t pursuing classical ballet study. From there, it has grown and evolved in to a beloved holiday tradition for our ATD families. Our first shows featured selected studio dancers and played in our own community theatre with 100 seats. This past weekend, over 300 performers took the stage at the Silva Concert Hall to a crowd of well over a thousand supporters.

While we know that the magic of the show happens on that beautiful stage, we believe there is quite a bit of magic in what happens behind the scenes as well. So, here are a few things you may not have known that brought the story to life.

Two days before show, one of our beautiful dancers dislocated her knee during rehearsal, ending her opportunity to dance in the show. Her teammates not only rallied around her with hugs, love, and a few tears – but they also restaged six dances in the show to make them work with one less dancer.

Courtney Weixelman was our perfect Clara this year. Courtney has danced at ATD for ten years and auditioned for Clara for three years before getting the role. She prayed all summer that she wouldn’t grow because she didn’t want too look too old for the part. Hard work pays off and we could not have asked for a better Clara than this lovely girl.

The day of show, one of our leaders in Ballroom broke his foot. Another ATD dancer, who was taking a year off due to a back injury, was helping out backstage. She learned the entire jive routine in the hallway and went on to the stage to dance it in the show so that no one was short a partner.

The beautiful couch in the Stahlbaum home was a coincidental find. On the day of our promotional photo shoot, our original location was unavailable. We scrambled last minute and our photographer suggested a wedding venue she had used in the past. When we arrived, the beautiful couch was sitting out on the porch in front of their barn. We immediately knew it was a perfect setting for our photos. We later called the venue and they allowed us to use their “porch decoration” for the actual show.

Our Icecream dancers were in the wings waiting to go on when we realized their Icecream hats were missing. ATD staff member Kristie ran from the stage (gracefully in heels), sprinted to the dressing room to grab them and a team of ten older dancers snapped their hats in to place as they were walking on to stage. Now that’s teamwork!

Miss Jaylene’s Bubblegum Machine was much smaller in our minds, but once we measured the tallest dancer in the class (that would be my daughter), we realized that in order to make the proportions correct, the bubblegum dispenser would need to be twelve feet tall! Miss Jaylene also stood on stage perfectly still behind one of the legs of the machine during the entire dance so that she could help distribute the Bubblegum balls.

Our Nutcracker Prince, Carson, had only performed in Tap before this season. Knowing his work ethic and ability to learn quickly, he was invited to be the Prince for this year’s show. He learned ballet steps, waltz, and lifts in preparation for this role and handled it all like a pro.

Our Ice River fabric arrived much later than planned, giving the dancers only one class to set the choreography with the fabric. Since the sixty yards of material was too large for the dance studio, they never rehearsed the actual look until show day. After seeing the white fabric, it looked too harsh, so Marie and I took a Rubbermaid tub outside, filled it with water from the hose, dumped in blue dye, and found an old baseball bat to stir it up – voila! Your beautiful ice river emerged just in time for show!

Makayla Rice, one of our beautiful Sugar Sisters, has danced at ATD for eleven years and this was her seventh Nutcracker. Her first role was as a little Lollipop. This year, she set our show record by appearing in nineteen dances in the show!

There are many more special moments that make the Nutcracker Remixed so much more than just a great show. We watch our students bond together, grow in confidence, handle disappointments, problem-solve, cheer each other on, and communicate through artistry. Now that is true magic.