‘The big fir tree in the middle of the room had many gold and silver apples dangling from it, and sugared almonds and coloured sweets grew there like buds and flowers. There were all kinds of delicious things to nibble on the branches. But I must tell you the best thing of all about this wonderful tree – a hundred little lights sparkled like stars in its dark branches, and as they twinkled the tree itself kindly invited the children to pick its fruit and flowers. Everything under the Christmas tree was a bright and beautiful sight – what lovely things there were – oh, who could be giving them such things?’
Christmas is a season full of tradition. One tradition that has appeared almost every year since I was about eight is that of the Nutcracker. It shows up in my Christmas in some form or another – it was especially special to me when I was living in Paris as a child, as my ballet school would do a performance of it every year. My first year at the school, I was a piece of marzipan, and from there, I was Chinese Tea (my first solo), Arabian Coffee, a flower in the Waltz of the flower, and even Clara herself – probably the role I am most proud of, in all my dancing/singing/acting as a child. To me, preparing for the Nutcracker, and the increase in rehearsals and the rush of everyone pouring into the theatre and doing rehearsals on stage and the final, sweet performance – that symbolises Christmas to me.
I haven’t danced for several years, but the Nutcracker still makes appearances when it can. My mum gave me a lovely Nutcracker for Christmas one year, which stands proudly on top of a bookcase, guarding the Christmas tree below. Once year my parents took us to New York over the Christmas period, and I got to fulfil a lifelong dream of seeing the New York City Ballet perform the Nutcracker – I can still see in my mind’s eye the Christmas tree growing and growing so that Clara looks like she is shrinking to the size of a mouse. Last year when in Prague I saw a rather bizare version of the Nutcracker blended with a Christmas Carol. This year, I have decided to read the actual book. The Nutcracker Christmas tradition is continuing.
Tonight I am sure I will dream of Sugar Plum Fairies, Bon bons prancing and Snowflakes swirling. Now, it will really feel like Christmas.