PAGE – People who went to “The Nutcracker” over the weekend know her. She was the queen of the Land of Sweets, very regal and authoritative, who danced with maturity and strength. She was the ballerina of Act IV and this was her last performance.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Chyenne Klemme as she prepared for her Sugarplum Fairy solo Saturday night at Page High School’s Cultural Arts Building, where she also had performed the previous night, catching the quality of dulcet icing that was right for her name.
Klemme, a senior at Page High, has danced the Sugarplum Fairy solo before. She says if a dancer performs this role with warmth, graciousness, and elegance, the spell is cast. But dancing this solo requires movements that embody wistfulness and breadth.
“I’ve been the Sugarplum Fairy for two years now,” said Klemme, whose port de bras (moving and posing the arms) has an unselfconscious way of blossoming. “And it’s definitely a difficult dance but over the past two years, I’ve progressed, and I can see differences in my dancing this year than last year and how I’ve grown stronger as a dancer.”
Klemme went on to say, “I really like the Sugarplum Fairy dance. It’s really whimsical and sparkly and everything fun. It gets me into the Christmas spirit.”
Surrounded by the “Christmas Tree Angels,” Klemme danced on the CAB stage to the enchanting melody of “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
Every year productions pop back into life by the hundred, just as it returned to The Dancespace for its annual over the weekend.
Most, like The Dancespace, still follow the same basic conventions established by the first version: Clara, her magician godfather Drosselmeyer, a battle between toy soldiers and mice, a forest glade of dancing Snowflakes, a Sugarplum Fairy presiding over a realm of Sweets. But variations of this ballet abound.
Though this never gets old for Janice Kocjan, owner of the Dancespace School of Ballet, who played the mother in Act I’s “A gala Christmas party at the home of Clara and Fritz.”
“Actually, it doesn’t (get old). I don’t know why,” Kocjan said. “It’s always magical and I guess it always will be.”
Usually the setting is more than a century ago, and usually in Europe. The Nutcracker is not about falling in love. It is a fairytale ballet centered on a family’s Christmas Eve celebration. The story centers on Clara’s awakening to the wider world. Part of the story’s mystery is that Drosselmeyer and the Sugarplum never meet. Only Clara and the Nutcracker Prince meet both characters.
“It’s kind of around the basis of magic around Christmas time,” Klemme explained. “So, this little girl receives a Christmas present, which is the nutcracker, at a Christmas party (she’s) having with their family and friends. And it turns out this nutcracker is magical. After the party (Clara) goes downstairs and it comes to life and with that comes a battle between the nutcracker soldiers and the evil rats.”
She went on to say, “After that, she travels to the land of snow where the Snow Queen performs the snowflakes, then travels to the Land of Sweets where she meets the Sugarplum Fairy and is introduced to all the dolls. After that, they all perform and there’s the waltz of the flowers and–– She gets carried away back to her home.”
Klemme says The Nutcracker is a tradition for her and her Dancespace family.
“We’ve been all doing this since we were wee … ones,” she added. “So, it’s definitely something we always look forward to and we have so much fun doing it. We perform and rehearse together so much that our dance studio’s like our second home.”
But the magic happens backstage a couple hours before showtime, said Kocjan.
“There’s a lot of chaos but there’s also good organization.”
The mice made ultrasonic noises backstage. They colored and played while the little Sugarplum fairies bounced and sang “Down by the banks of the Hanky Panky,” a circle game, as they waited for the overture.
The dolls carefully applied their makeup and chitchatted with one another in the girls’ dressing room. Some stretched their feet in a hallway while Joy Szabo applied theater makeup to Brenden Donoho, who along with three others, played Fritz’s friends.
It is that time of year again.