Sugar Plum Dreams

The legendary ballet, The Nutcracker, comes to life each holiday season through its iconic composition and enchanting characters. While the Nutcracker Prince and Rat King gleam in young audiences eyes, nothing quite compares to the Sugar Plum Fairy. Am I biased? Possibly! However, there is nothing more sweet than seeing a young girl light up as the Sugar Plum Fairy graces the stage.

I was once that little girl. It didn’t matter how amazing the other characters were, I just wanted to see the Sugar Plum Fairy! Her grace and generosity captured my heart. This year I had the opportunity to dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. It was magical! However, it didn’t feel magical at the beginning. Attempting to get through the pas de deux was hard enough - I hadn’t even danced the variation or coda, and I was breathing like a fish out of water! That is everything but magical. Thankfully, the rehearsal process helped build strength and stamina, and before I knew it, I was taking the first steps on stage towards my Cavalier.

A week or two leading up to the production the nerves and pressure were settling in. As one of Ballet Arkansas’ largest productions of the season, The Nutcracker brings new challenges and goals each year.

I’ll never forget this Nutcracker. Just a few days before opening night, my grandma was admitted into the hospital. After suffering from a heart attack, failing kidneys, a torn esophagus, and no telling what else, she was still encouraging me for the upcoming weekend. She has been the only grandparent I have ever known - and therefore, very special to me. As I was leaving the hospital, the last thing she said to me was “The children will never forget this for the rest of their lives.”

As the weekend progressed, I kept repeating those words to myself.

After rehearsing for many weeks, of course I wanted everything to be technically strong. The Sugar Plum Fairy, however, is so much more than just technique. She’s genuine, strong, charming, and magical - everything a ballerina should be. As I stepped out on the Robinson Theater stage, surrounded by my shuffling angels, I could feel the little butterflies in my stomach release! No matter what happened on stage, I was determined to have fun.

As the 2nd act progressed, I could feel my heart fluttering with excitement. The Sugar Plum Fairy I was a week ago, was completely different from the one that was about to walk on stage. The music started, and in the blink of an eye, it was over!

I loved every moment on stage with my Cavalier, Zeek Wright. Was everything technically perfect? Probably not. However, I can genuinely say I had fun on stage. We both did!

As we took our final bow and exited the stage, we giggled with excitement - It was that much fun! I’m not 100% sure what the audience took away from our performance, but for Zeek and I, we were humbled.

Performing brought us joy, and we hope it brought joy to others. The Nutcracker will always bring new challenges and new goals, but let’s save those for next year! This Sugar Plum is sleepy!

I want to thank my husband, family, and friends for their unlimited support. Also, my grandma (who is doing well and getting stronger) for saying just the right words when I needed them the most.

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