I haven't let myself watch (or go to) The Nutcracker in quite some time. My short stint after college as an apprentice to a local ballet company was the amazing realization of a childhood dream, but it was also a tense and highly critical environment. My memories of my time there are complicated. And though the closing of that door pushed me toward other things I needed to do in my life, it hurt when it closed. I had to redefine myself in my early twenties--I'd always thought of myself as Heather the dancer, and it took me a while to move beyond that. I haven't wanted to really sit or think about ballet for a long time. Certainly not this show. It's every company's bread and butter--how you make your money for the season--and in your time as a professional dancer you dance it more than any other show. I was Nutcrackered-out.
I also think I've been too distracted to sit and watch ballet. For years, really. But today I sat and let myself fall completely into the rabbit hole that was the 1989 recording of the Bolshoi Nutcracker. Ballet is about lifting things up and making them more elegant than they are in real life. It's an illusion, but a lovely one. Yesterday, as I cuddled Addie tight under a green afghan and explained the various dances in the Land of the Sweets, I needed that fantasy.