A Clara Memory
When I was cast as Clara in 2007, I was so excited to dance the role I had dreamt about since I was a little girl. I knew that it meant many things: I would get to sign the Clara Throne, per ARB tradition, and wear a crown, but I also knew I had big (pointe) shoes to fill. My very first role in The Nutcracker was a party girl in the First Act and I had seen the older, company girls dance this role and as I got older my friends in the company too. I admired the way they brought Clara to life and I wanted to do the same.
I wanted to spend all my time in rehearsals, and in the downtime I did have, I spent sewing extra pairs of pointe shoes I would inevitably need and listening to my music. I barely even noticed the particularly cold winter we were having until the massive snowstorm we had during tech week (ugh). To be totally honest, a lot of the process is somewhat of a blur to me, like a dream. I can’t remember every single rehearsal but there are certainly parts I’ll never forget.
To this day, I’ll never forget how I felt when the curtain went up, swinging around with pesky Fritz, how difficult it was to ever-so-elegantly bobby pin the crown to my head whilst on stage or the deep breath I took as I “slept” next to Nutty as the curtain fell to the last few notes from the orchestra. All of it only to be enhanced by the roaring applause during curtain call.
As dancers, we hope those deep feelings translate to the audience members. I can assure you as someone who has been on both sides, dancer and audience member, it certainly does. It’s the magic of ARB’s Nutcracker.
Like Clara with a dream so perfect, the audience is left to question whether or not it was real. But for me, it was that… and more.
Anna Barnes, ARB Alumni (Once an ARB, always an ARB)