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For the professional dancers, the biggest “Nutcracker” woes involve their costumes, props and choreography. In the snow scene, for instance, little Clara encounters ballerinas dressed as snowflakes, whirling through a storm of silvery flurries, whipped along by some of the most gorgeous, dramatic music in the Tchaikovsky score. It is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Yet for the women onstage, the snow scene can be a stone-cold killer. They’re circling around, jumping and spinning, desperate for air, but if they gasp, they’ll gag on fake flakes.
“Only closed-teeth smiles,” counsels dancer Elizabeth Walker of Los Angeles Ballet, “Breathe through your teeth.”, Johnson remembers her first year as a snowflake, wearing an icicle crown that she hadn’t pinned down tightly enough, During a series of turns, it flew off, and she danced the rest of the scene alongside her snowflake sisters as the single, conspicuously bareheaded flake — a mortifying rookie mistake, But another novice snowflake had it worse, At one point, standing at the far end of the line, this bloch pointe shoes european balance young and very green apprentice gracefully bent down over her front foot and then rose to do a little jump along with the other ballerinas, Except she was stuck in the mesh fabric of the wing..
“The wing, like, ate her crown,” Johnson says. “She had to go offstage and get unstuck. It was, ‘Oh, we just lost a snowflake.’ ”. Male dancers have their troubles, too. For Michael Sean Breeden, who recently retired from Miami City Ballet, his nightmare variation was the intensely athletic Candy Cane, performed to the fast, high-spirited “Trepak” music in George Balanchine’s version of “The Nutcracker.” The leading dancer carries a big hoop, and while he’s bouncing and leaping, he swings it overhead, flips it under his feet and whips it around himself like a jump-rope.
“There are 500 things that could go wrong,” bloch pointe shoes european balance Breeden says, and he’s suffered them all, including the smacked chin, banged skull, smashed toes and trips, “I had a year where I’d get caught in the hoop in a different moment each time, OK, so next time, I’d have my mental strategy, like, don’t pull your chin in, And I’d clear that hurdle, and the next sequence I hadn’t over-analyzed would get me.”, But even worse was his year with Boston Ballet, as the Bear in the first-act party scene, which he calls “possibly the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life.” He wore a big, furry head that complicated basic needs such as seeing and breathing, The choreography was virtuosic — difficult, strenuous turns..
“I was in tears,” he says, “before and after.”. And yet, the men and women interviewed for this article agreed that the men’s burden in most any version of “The Nutcracker” is nothing compared with what the ballerinas go through. “When the boys are complaining, we’re like, ‘Dude, you cannot be saying that. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Don’t be talking to us right now,'” Johnson says. “I’m sure they get hot, and their hearts beat quite a bit, but the girls are getting corns and are in pointe shoes every day.”.
Often dancing two shows a day, feet squeezed into their pointe shoes from morning class through rehearsals and performances into the night, the women can develop sores between the toes where the bones rub together, These corns unleash sharp, shooting pain that makes every step excruciating, “I’ve had broken bones, but a corn is this horrible nerve pain,” Walker says, The solution involves podiatrists and goop-scraping and antibiotics, Some try to numb their toes with Oragel, Or they cut holes in the pointe shoes, Walker knows some dancers who bloch pointe shoes european balance have had surgery to shave their toe bones..
“Nutcracker”-related injuries can affect a dancer for months afterward. Last year, Washington Ballet’s Nicole Graniero developed tendinitis in one foot, which led her to overcompensate and injure her other foot. She’d dance in high heels in the party scene, changing into pointe shoes for the Snow Queen or Dew Drop or Sugar Plum or any of the nine roles in which she was cast. Throughout the run, she had two shows off. By her last performance, she could barely walk. “Dancing ‘The Nutcracker’ gave me a six-month injury,” she says. This year, she’s happy to report, she’s been given a lighter load.
That end-of-the-series limp is familiar to every dancer who’s done “Nutcracker” time, “The first week, you’re like, ‘I got this.’ But it’s a different story the fourth week into it,” Johnson says, “The fatigue, The repetition, You can get complacent.”, Yet, for dancers — as for all of us — the years spin faster and faster, and Christmas Eve, bloch pointe shoes european balance the ballet version that arrives around Thanksgiving, comes sooner and sooner, One more season of “Nutcracker.” One season closer to the end of a career..