Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Nutcracker, Laramie Style

Ah, Christmas. The roommates have been glugging eggnog, the neighbors have put up their inflatable snow globe on the frosty lawn, and the snow won't stop coming down in Laramie. Too, I prayed to the ballet gods and they delivered: this year is the quadrennial performance of The Nutcracker. The local paper says "this year’s production would continue the resetting of the ballet in 1890s Laramie with new scenic drops and Western-style costumes." I was kind of thinking of act I of this episode of This American Life as I was eagerly rushing over to the theater.

Mostly it wasn't so bad. The backdrop of one act was an over-sized, macro Christmas tree with one ornament that was not immediately identifiable (it looked kind of like a mouse skull), the dancers had trouble landing their pirouettes, Mother Ginger was slinging whiskey atop her hoop skirt, and there was a strange lack of dancing throughout the first act. But in a way it was beautiful because it was clear that every hobby school in town got to participate - the gymnastics school, the ballet school, the choir. Everyone up on stage helping make this once-in-four-years extravaganza as amazing as it could possibly be.

I got to reminiscing about my own Nutcracker days. A. and I used to dance every dance there was. We had to set up our costumes backstage instead of in the actual changing room so we'd have more time to rearrange ourselves during breaks. I did cartwheels when I got nervous. My favorite dances were the Spanish and the Arabian. The Arabian costume resembled Disney's Jazmine's attire, a little bead strewn top, opaque purple underwear and transparent, billowing, chiffon pants. Once, in my changing frenzy, I forgot to put on the opaque underwear and danced the whole thing, to an audience of chuckling Jewish grandmothers and parents, in just my see-through pants.

Back in Laramie: during the Grand Pas de Deux, a ring went off that sounded like the loudest cell phone in the world. Before starting, the ballerinas had done a cute little intro that kindly told us to turn off our phones, so the interruption seemed extra obnoxious. Then more loud ringing. We finally figured that it was probably a fire alarm. People started shuffling out while the curtain drew closed. The ballerinas kept spinning un-assuredly until the curtain completely shut.

Outside, it took the firemen 10 minutes to arrive. Tutu'd girls pulled on leg warmers, the angels in nurse hats stood chatting in a circle, the matrons from act 1 held doors for the exiting audience. K. twirled on the patch of ice we claimed as the firemen finally strode into the non-burning building.

We decided to go home. At home things smelled a little smoky. Turns out C. forgot to turn the oven off.

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