My First Nutcracker


Today Natalie and I watched the Nutcracker. Her friend Evelyn invited Natalie and another little girl to the performance for her fourth birthday. We ate lunch at The CheeseCake Factory before the show, and joined the cast for a Nutcracker Sweet Tea afterwards. All three girls, decked out in their very best holiday dresses, were absolutely enthralled. The performance, done almost entirely by students, was really sweet. At the tea, they got to meet all the characters, have their pictures taken, and collect autographs. It was truly an afternoon to remember! Natalie has been to a Nutcracker before, but she was quite young at the time, so this is the first Nutcracker she will truly remember.

Over the years, I have watched many Nutcrackers, and at each period of my life my experiences have been a bit different. I can still remember watching my very first Nutcracker ballet when I was about five or six, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Like many little girls, my own included, it was my first ballet ever. I remember watching my aunt's Sony Betamax tape of Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov with the American Ballet Theater dancing George Balanchine's Nutcracker. We watched that tape again and again throughout my childhood. Even now, I can hum Tchaikovsky's score from memory. We oohed and aahhhed over Baryshnikov's turns and tried to copy all the dances. Even though I was a chubby, clumsy girl who hated going to ballet lessons, I always loved watching ballet, and I still do. In my teen years, I switched from ballet to jazz and actually started enjoying to dance myself. From my years dancing for Powerdance, I gained an appreciation for the technical side of dance, and began watching the Nutcracker with a more critical eye, admiring extensions, arches and turnouts, imagining myself doing all those fouettes and gasping with sympathy at how tired the sugarplum fairy must be.

Today was the first time I have watched the Nutcracker as a mother, and again it was a new experience for me. I enjoyed it as I always do, but I watched Natalie just as much as I did the stage. I kept looking over at at her, watching her rapt little face and round eyes, wondering if she was experiencing the same emotions I did so long ago. I wonder if she looked at the sugarplum fairy and thought she was the prettiest, most graceful creature in the whole world. I wonder if she wanted to run onto the stage and enter the land of sweets like I did. I wonder if she watched the Nutcracker and knew beyond a doubt that she wanted to be a ballerina when she grew up, like I did when I watched it for the first time. When I was a child, I had fantasies of dancing in the Nutcracker every time I watched it. This time, I had my own little mommy fantasies. With each little angel, each little gingerbread girl that appeared on the stage, I imagined Natalie in her place and imagined myself in the audience, dying of pride and trying to sneak in a couple of photos when the ushers aren't looking.
Natalie is begging me to take her to another performance this year, and is already talking of going with her brothers next year. I'm glad she had a good first Nutcracker experience, because it certainly won't be her last. I'm looking forward to all the new Nutcracker experiences in store for us.
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pamela said...

I enjoy your posts- love the definition of what a Bongga Mom is.