19 Jan 2017
Dancer’s Story: Amber Lewis
So This is Christmas…
Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year.
As a kid I grew up with hot Australian Christmas days during summer. This included sweating in the kitchen with every vegetable and bird in the oven. Jumping in the pool early in the morning after opening Christmas gifts and spending almost every second of the day outside in the sun. Swimsuits were on from sun up to sun down.
It wasn’t until I moved to the states did I fully understand the meaning of a “traditional Christmas”. Finally everything started to make sense. Those wintry Christmas movies and all those Christmas songs. Baby it’s Cold Outside, White Christmas…huh.
But there is one tradition as a dancer in America I’ll never be without at Christmas, and that is The Nutcracker.
Cue the Sugar Plum Fairy music…
Ask any dancer and I can guarantee they’d remember every version of The Nutcracker they’ve ever performed. If you ever want to see this phenomena, find yourself a dancer and The Nutcracker soundtrack. They will pretty much dance on cue. However, I do not recommend this experiment unless you want to see some very angry ballerinas.
The Nutcracker for Ballet Arizona dancers is three full weeks of performing at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix. These weeks entail multiple role changes, a whole lot of false eyelashes and a constant overdose of candy. Basically, we are living at the theater for the whole month of December.
This year I was lucky enough to room with Chelsea Teel. She brought with her a ton of laughs, an extensive collection of tools (for your body), oh and Sunday football. We’d sit, watch and listen while putting our make up on before our matinée performances. One thing I’ve for sure learned about the sport is even if you get paid millions of dollars and have trained endlessly to solely catch the football, most of the time the football is still not caught.
What you don’t see at Ballet Arizona’s Nutcracker are a few annual traditions that happen behind the curtain. Usually they all happen on the last performance. Lucky for us, this year our last show happened to fall on Christmas Eve. Act I ends with a beautiful snow scene with confetti falling like snow. If you’ve ever seen The Nutcracker, this is one of the most iconic scenes. Once the curtain has dropped, the stage crew dumps the rest of the snow all over us which usually turns into a confetti snow fight. We all play in it for a few minutes before the crew comes back and cleans it up for Act II. Other fun moments include our final stage bows wearing Santa hats and an after show shot. This year it was whiskey provided by our Cuban peers. It burned.
All in all The Nutcracker, as demanding and tiring as it is on our bodies, is absolutely one of my favorite moments of the season!
Amber Lewis will be performing live during Ballet Arizona’s production of Romeo & Juliet February 9-12.
Click here to read her bio and watch her Ballet Arizona dancer’s video.