Dancers face a twofold challenge in any ballet. The combination of extreme athleticism and visual beauty means that dancers have to make their work look effortless. That's never easy when the choreography includes leaps, sword fights, dancing en pointe and fluidity of movement.
“You have to have a lot of stamina to go from the party scene into a snow pas de deux,” Herd said. “It's also important to keep your energy up when you're sitting on the throne in the Kingdom of Sweets.”
Love echoed Herd's concerns about stamina in the first act and the lengthy stretch in the second act when his character Hans is more of an observer than a participant. The latter requires a special type of diligence to convey involvement in a scene when he's not especially active.
“I'm on stage for the majority of the ballet and sitting on the throne in Act II is not much of a break,” Love explained. “You have to look alive or the audience won't be involved. You learn how much the smallest subtle details matter.”
Those issues become paramount when one considers that ballet dancers don't have the luxury of speech. Every emotion, from anticipation to unabashed joy, has to be conveyed through carriage, gesture and facial expression. As Norma Desmond said in “Sunset Boulevard,” “We didn't need dialogue. We had faces!”
“An actor can say something to express an emotion but a dancer has to embody that,” Herd said. “I have to show the audience that Clara has feelings for Hans but at the same time, she's shy. Without speech, you have to give the audience time to read your gestures. It's a fascinating process to convey what your character is thinking.”
A number of family activities are planned during the run of “The Nutcracker.”
At all performances, kids are invited to create a keepsake Christmas ornament. Guests can meet the cast, have photos taken with Santa and attend a milk and cookies reception at all matinee performances.