This I Believe

Mary - Topeka, Kansas
Entered on December 17, 2007

The Nutcracker Ballet is a Christmastime tradition in the United States for many. From the constant barrage of Peter Tchaikovsky’s score in yuletide commercials to the decorative use of Nutcrackers everywhere, Americans seem to have formed a bond with the ballet and connected it with Christmas.

The Nutcracker has long been a part of my family’s Christmas tradition. When I was three, my mother took me to see a performance of the Nutcracker. I had recently started ballet classes and knew the story of the Nutcracker due to a children’s book. My mother told me that when the production started and I saw that there were children on stage, I wanted to know why I wasn’t performing with them.

I performed my first Nutcracker when I was eight years old, and have continued the tradition ever since. As a young girl, I was enamored by the sequined, sparkling costumes of the prima ballerinas and their gleaming tiaras. Their flexibility and acrobatics mesmerized me, and I couldn’t stop watching. The experience of the ballet was magical. I was instantly drawn to the story, and I loved every minute of it. I became determined to become one of those ballerinas one day.

The primary reason I felt so drawn to the story was that the focal character, Clara, is a young girl. The story, originally written by E.T. Hoffman, related to my childish fantasies of inanimate objects coming to life, the personification of animals, heavenly other worlds, and dashing prince charmings. The story begins with Clara and her brother Fritz, quarreling, much to her parents’ irritation. Clara’s uncle, the magical Herr Drossemeyer, gifts her with a Nutcracker, met with jealousy from Fritz. After nightfall, Clara’s home is invaded by an army of evil mice, surely the fear of many children. Her Nutcracker transforms into a handsome prince and defeats the army of mice. He then whisks her away to a magical land of sweets and sugar plums. The story caused me to think about how I fought endlessly with my own brother, often over possessions, met by frustration from my parents. Clara seemed to be a lot like me.

Starting off as a lowly mouse in the Battle Scene, over the years I started to weave my way up the complicated casting list. As I got older, the parts I received got better. Nine years since my first Nutcracker it seems like I have danced every part in the ballet. This past year I danced the role of the Dew Drop in the Waltz of the Flowers, a coveted role for an advanced dancer. Somewhere within those nine years I forgot about my childhood dream of becoming a prima ballerina, yet I had become, in a sense just that. I had continued to dance simply because I loved to dance. The moral is not to forget your childhood dreams, because you just might fulfill them.