April 17


The sweet smell of sugar plum

When opening day arrives for Ballet San Antonio's cast of The Nutcracker – plus one (that's me) – we're ready to make some holiday magic at the Majestic Theater. The backstage chatter conjures a spirit of cheerful anticipation, while random instruments can be heard going over what may be the more difficult passages of Tchaikovsky's immortal score. When I close my eyes, it isn't hard to envision opening night at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg when the ballet first premiered in 1892.

In dressing room M6, between painted homages to Oliver! and State Fair, corps de ballet dancer Dylan Duke, chin raised almost undetectably higher than the rest of his colleagues, casually applies his stage make-up. To my left, 15-year-old trainee Aiden Carrasquel kneels on a chair to get a closer look at his eye-liner. Corps dancer Ernesto Lea Place walks back and forth – oblivious to my admiration - ensuring that his costumes aren't in wardrobe purgatory. The wardrobe master and his staff are still hemming and stitching steadily.

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