A Day in Nevill Land

Playing Mother Ginger in the Nutcracker

By December 21, 2017 No Comments

I recently started working at a dance studio in North Fort Worth. Studio One Dance Center has been really good to me since closing my studio in October! When I joined the team everyone was in the middle of rehearsals for the big Nutcracker performance planned for December 16th. My friend and studio owner, Jenn, jokingly told me in passing one day that I would make an awesome “Mother Ginger.” They needed someone tall and animated to play the role and she already had it in her head that it would either be me or the equally tall office manager Kim. Being that we are both six feet tall she felt we would be the perfect fit.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Nutcracker story let me help you out! “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” is a story written in 1816 by German author E. T. A. Hoffmann, in which young Clara’s favorite Christmas toy, the Nutcracker, comes alive and, after defeating the evil Mouse King in battle, whisks her away to a magical kingdom populated by dolls.

In 1892, the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov turned Alexandre Dumas père’s adaptation of the story into the ballet The Nutcracker. Mother Ginger is in a scene with her baby clowns called polichinelles. The polihinelles coming running out from under Mother Ginger’s dress and perform a fun dance for Clara.

Kim and I started some playful banter pinning the role back and forth between one another. “It’s all yours!” she would joke. “No, no, it’s all YOURS!” I would shoot back. Eventually, I agreed to take the part and began rehearsals with my little clown babies who, on average, were around seven years old.

With my costume, I had room for two polichinelles. The rest stood behind me as we scuffled on stage. The whole process was a ton of fun! Coming into the initial rehearsal with the look of awe on all of their faces like “WOW! It’s our Mother Ginger!!!” They seemed to be so fascinated! I was equally fascinated with them. They had already learned all of their intricate choreography and I had some catching up to do! The choreographer, Valerie, made my job super easy and fun.

Picking out my costume was exciting too! I had never been to a costume store like the one we visited. We ended up picking out a costume from the Mary Poppins musical with hot pink ruffles down the back and a feathery pink bib that fit perfectly under the bright yellow jacket. Topped off with a big poofy white wig and heavy stage makeup. I was ready to go!

I was never really nervous but more so excited to play the part. I hadn’t been on stage for a true performance since high school theatre. Which I LOVED. The vibe backstage on the night of the show was full of smiles, excitement, and fun banter. Everyone was so excited. And for good reason! The studio had sold more tickets than anticipated and it already felt like a success. All of the proceeds from the evening benefited Sunshine Spaces and we had raised over $5,000 for the cause! It was simply time to relax, have fun, and put on a good show!

As I prepared to perform with my baby polichinelles I sat on a bench just backstage as other performers would pass and touch my soft feather fan, then they’d reach for my dress, they all seemed so fascinated with my over the top Mother Ginger costume. I was too! All of the little ones begged to crawl under my dress which seemed pretty awkward at first but then I just embraced it and felt thankful (mostly for their sake) that I wasn’t gassy. haha! They all wanted to be the one to run out from under Mother Ginger’s dress.

The performance went off without a hitch! My soft feathery fan did somehow break in my hand while in the middle of our number. Not sure if it was the death grip or what? I wasn’t sure if I should keep on keepin on or if I should just toss it aside and hope nobody noticed. I decide to grip it and carry on. As we ran off stage I felt a surge of happiness and adrenaline from the amazing experience. The girls were incredible and I was thankful to be along for the ride.

Studio One has decided to perform the Nutcracker annually! It has been mentioned that the Mother Ginger scene is also a competition piece in the Spring. I’m so tempted to get in on THAT! What fun that could be.

All in all, it was exhilarating and I cannot wait to perform again. I’m thankful for Jenn, Kim, Valerie, Kari, the entire cast, and crew who put together an amazing show. I had SO much fun!

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