Ballet Arizona’s Angel Night from a Staff Members Perspective
The Nutcracker Edition
5:30pm – The doors open.
Children of all ages accompanied by their families, dressed in their very best, enter the amber lit hall. It is a special time, the tree is decorated in the center of the lobby, the Holiday Boutique is filled with colorful Nutcrackers and ornaments, the craft table is filled with glitter, and even more exciting, the Sugar Plum Fairy is waiting excitedly for photos with tonight’s special guests.
As I welcome their expansive smiles and widening eyes, I am instantly reminded of the childish wonder and curiosity I had when I attended performances as a child. For many attendees this is their first time entering a theatre to experience the magic of a live ballet performance. For all, this is a night we have been anxiously waiting for all year.
5:45pm – The craft table.
Tonight’s patrons have the opportunity to write and mail a letter to the Ballet Arizona dancers. I see volunteers assist the children in selecting the medium of their choice. Markers, crayons, stickers and more help ignite the young artists creativity. Letters of all shades are mailed with enclosed messages expressing the child’s sheer excitement and gratitude to the dancers or perhaps praising the Mouse King’s “awesome” acting! Parents and guardians also participate, writing short notes of gratitude or writing their own stories of excitement for the evening ahead.
6:00pm – The Sugar Plum Fairy
Across from the craft table, I see a line of families and friends waiting patiently for their chance to take a photo with the Sugar Plum Fairy. She is all dressed up in costume and helps arrange each individual into the perfect pose, with her at the center. Some attendees imitate her ballet poses, showing off their ballet skills. Some of the younger patrons have many curious questions about her pointe shoes. She demonstrates how she can go up onto her toes, many excited squeals are prompted by this trick.
6:15pm – Into the Hall
Patrons are still rushing in through the doors, quickly following directions from the ushers as they go to find their seats, eager to not miss a moment of the performance. I watch as the attendees disappear through the portal doors into the grand Hall to take their seats. The excitement is palpable and joy begins bubbling within me as I anticipate the familiar magic they are about to experience for the first time. A life changing magic.
6:30pm – The Nutcracker
Scenes of a festive party, acts of bravery, a wistful snowfall, residents of the Land of Sweets, and the Sugar Plum Fairy grace the stage before them. In 2 hours, Angel Night patrons are taken on a journey far
away from the realities of life at home. For those who are experiencing the performance for the first time, the magic of ballet has just begun. A world of music and dancing has opened up to them and a special memory of this first performance is created. For others who have seen ballet before, they get to enjoy the holiday tradition again with their family or friends and step away from the stress of the day for even just the briefest moment.
8:30pm – The Performance Ends
The people exiting the theater are not the same people that entered. I watch the faces of the attendees as they neatly file out. They are tight together in their groups, chattering away about the performance they were all just witness to. I so clearly recognize the wonder in their eyes. A seed has been planted within them. Remarks are made, by perhaps future dancers, arts lovers or supporters, to me about how much they enjoyed themselves. Continuously I hear about how “this program enriches lives” by “exposing them to the wonderful world of dance”.
Since 2008, nearly 85,000 people have been Angel Night attendees, each of those individuals coming from social service organizations across Arizona. Angel Night is inspiring next generation of ballet lovers and the impact made from just one night, I believe, ignites the human spirit.
9:00pm – Closing Time
Only 364 more days until the magic of The Nutcracker Angel Night returns.