Ball State dancers add 'creative twist' to classic 'Nutcracker'
During the season when snow falls and Christmas lights are everywhere, some turn to holiday classics to continue spreading cheer.
For many, Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” makes their list.
“When I hear the music playing during the holiday season, I can still remember the different parts that I performed as a dancer,” said Christie Zimmerman, the co-director of “The Nutcracker.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 in Emens Auditorium
Tickets are $10.
While the Ball State rendition of the ballet adheres to the original music and storyline, the choreography puts a creative spin on the original.
“Our version of the ballet at Ball State is very different than the traditional ballet-danced version most people associate with this performance,” said Audra Sokol, co-director of the show. “The audience can expect to see musical theatre dance, jazz, modern, and ballet, throughout the show.”
The performance will be the first production in collaboration with the Ball State Symphony Orchestra and the School of Music.
Since all three groups only rehearse together a few times before opening, Bekka Ferguson, a senior dance major, said it can be challenging to learn how to dance with a live orchestra.
“You have to take into account the tempo that you've been rehearsing at versus the tempo the orchestra is playing and adjust everything to match them,” Ferguson said. “That has been the hardest part so far because your muscle memory is used to one thing then you have to consciously make the changes as you're performing.”
Ferguson, along with attending practices, said she has been practicing on her own time.
“A lot of the rehearsal process was having to learn choreography from past videos of Ball State's production of the Nutcracker because they bring the show back every four years,” Ferguson said. “This was a new method and was very challenging at first but put a lot of responsibility on me to make sure I was prepared for each rehearsal.”
Sokol said she and three other choreographers have taught the student dancers during rehearsals that last three hours four days a week, with longer rehearsals on Sunday.
“Growing up, I have danced nearly every role in The Nutcracker from a tiny, toy soldier as a child to Sugar Plum in my teenage years,” Sokol said. “Being on a stage, hearing a full orchestra, dancing this choreography — it’s very much tied to lovely memories. This experience continues to make what the Nutcracker is to me deeper and richer.”
Whether audience members are like Sokol or just remember listening to the classic songs, “The Nutcracker” can be nostalgic for everyone.
“I think it’s one of the things that make this particular Nutcracker experience unlike any other Nutcracker that you may have previously seen,” Zimmerman said. “Our production is family-friendly; there is something for a 5-year-old, and there’s something for a 95-year-old. There’s a lot of joy and curiosity and wonder in the story and in the production.”
Contact Kiersten Hardy with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.