Corps de Ballet dancer JoAnna Schmidt estimates that she’s danced in at least 200 performances of The Nutcracker. Yet whether it’s a new role, a fresh perspective or a surprise detail, this show always offers something magical to discover. As she prepares to add the iconic Sugar Plum Fairy to her repertoire, JoAnna shares the Top 5 Nutcracker moments that she holds close to her heart.
HOLIDAY FUN FACTS
Favorite Holiday Tradition: Watching A Christmas Story with my family.
Describe your typical Christmas morning: Growing up, I would always have to nag my brother to get out of bed. Then we would walk down the stairs to find our parents sitting by the tree and we would all open presents. Even now, I usually end up eating candy for breakfast.
Total (ballpark) number of Nutcrackers that you have performed in since you started dancing: I’m going to guess around two hundred…
How does it feel to be learning the iconic Sugarplum Pas de Deux this year? If it were possible to encounter the 4-year-old version of myself, I am certain she’d be proud of me now…because I’ve been dreaming of doing this role since I was that age. Also, it’s a little nerve-racking.
Go-to winter activity: Snowball fights
TOP 5 MOMENTS IN THE NUTCRACKER
1. Watching Act II as Marie. I love dancing the role of Marie, and it’s such a treat to get the closest view of everyone performing during the second act. It’s a weird perspective, being able to see the audience behind the dancers, but it’s the best view. Sometimes you can see people communicating when their backs are to the audience, either by making a face or mouthing words to each other.
2. Clown Pants. The clowns never fail to deliver a great performance. There is one particular clown that I am truly envious of because they get to wear the most incredible, pink-sequined pants (Above: third from right). The pants are so billowy and sparkly—I wish they were my size and that I could wear them out to dinner or something.
3. Applause for the snow corps. You can’t always expect to get applause when dancing in the corps de ballet. Whenever people start to clap at the end of the snow scene, when the snowflakes are dancing fast, staccato steps in unison, it’s a very nice surprise.
4. Tiny ballerinas. One thing that is special about The Nutcracker is the amount of students involved. Seeing their diligence and excitement to dance is so uplifting. As much as I love to dance, sometimes I am guilty of forgetting that you have to have fun. The kids always remember to have fun…and it makes the performance more enjoyable to watch!
5. Tchaikovsky’s Grand Pas De Deux. This is some of the greatest music I have ever heard; it is so rich and full of different emotions. Even though I have heard it a million times, I am not tired of it. I am still amazed that Tchaikovsky could compose something so unique and masterful.