A Christmas Dream

Captivating. That’s the word that I would use to describe the “Nutcracker” performance I saw last weekend. I had been to a few Saint John’s School of the Arts performances in the past, but nothing compared to this spectacular performance. The lighting, props, costumes and talent blew me away.

My best friend had a lead part this year in the annual show. If it wasn’t for her, I’m not sure I would have gone to see the performance; and that would have been unfortunate. I knew the show was a big deal in the community. I had seen it advertised around town on posters and billboards, and I saw the exhausted faces of my classmates who attended four-hour rehearsals the week leading up to the show. Still, I didn’t realize how much of a community event this show is.

When I arrived at the Community Arts Center, the lobby was filled with parents taking pictures of their children next to life-size nutcracker statues and children hugging each other hello. Others were reading and discussing the performers’ biographies outlined in the program.

Shortly after the large velvet curtain rose, I quickly realized how many younger kids were involved in the show. In one of my favorite dances, Drosselmeyer pulled four girls, one by one, out of a box. He placed each “doll” in a row and bent their arms at the elbow, with some of them letting their arms fall, creating a humorous aspect to the show. The last dancer in the row was a four year old girl, who smiled shyly from the stage causing a gentle roar of “awes” from the audience.

Seeing the joy on the dancer’s faces and the close-knit connection the dancers had to each other represented the “family” aspect the dancers at SOTA really have. I have always admired their motto “We Dance for Him.” These students come together in celebration to do something they love, whether it’s dancing, singing or playing an instrument. The exchange of genuine smiles between the dancers on stage made me smile as well. The performers blurred the line between the story and reality; it was as though I was Clara, the girl who dreamt the tale, watching the story unfold. Sitting in the theatre that evening, I felt a little regretful I hadn’t enrolled at SOTA when I was younger.

After the performance, I stood in the lobby waiting for my friend to come out of the dressing room. Knowing that the bouquet in my arms was for the Sugar Plum Fairy, many people came up to me and complimented her performance. While I was admiring the huge Christmas tree and the nutcracker statues, a classmate’s parent approached me. She was excited to tell me that someone had just asked her if this was a local group or a touring dance company that performed the show.

My friend was one of the last to come out of the dressing room. She walked very slowly and looked exhausted, but satisfied at the same time. She had performed with a pulled tendon in each foot and a sprained toe. Although she must have felt excruciating pain, you would never know from watching her leap, glide and pirouette across the stage all evening.

Being a part of this timeless tale was a great way to kick off the holiday season.