Nutcracker Production Challenges Dancers

Kate Ginley, Opinion Editor

The California Academy of Performing Arts (CAPA) performed The Nutcracker in the CPAC December 19-21. Over a dozen Campolindo students, including sophomores Kathryn Daniel and Makenna Wolff, participated in the production.

Daniel performed the part of the Dream Fairy and Wolf danced as the Snow Queen.

For Daniel, who has been dancing for 11 years, it was her first major part. “It’s definitely the biggest role I’ve ever had, and the role includes a pretty long solo. I’ve had shorter solos before, but other people were onstage, so I wasn’t the only person to look at in those. It was nerve-wracking to have that many eyes on me for that long, especially since the dance includes a lot of turning and jumping, so it’s very physically demanding as well,” she explained.

While having performed as a lead before, this part was challenging for Wolff. “The experience was very surreal. Being Snow Queen is such a different format than other roles I’ve performed because it requires a huge amount of technique and it’s much more challenging in terms of choreography. I had been preparing since April 2015 with weekly privates from my dance coach.” 

Daniel’s preparation was equally extensive. “I’ve been practicing since the school year started in September, with nearly 5 hour long rehearsals Saturdays and Sundays for the 3 weeks leading up to it, so in short, a lot. When Nutcracker rolls around every year, I kiss my social life goodbye for the most part.”

The production is typically a formative one for most of its participants. Junior Jenny Winkler, a member of the ensemble, said, “Being in The Nutcracker has affected my life as it has made me grow as a stronger dancer and person. Through it, I have been able to meet great people and have many amazing opportunities given to me,” said Winkler.

Both Winkler and Daniel started CAPA at a young age. “I’ve been dancing with CAPA since I was 4, which makes this my 12th year with the studio. Even though I’ve been dancing for so long, it never fails to present itself as a challenge. Once I think I’ve climbed over a huge obstacle and mastered one skill, I find out there are five other moves or positions I’ve been doing wrong that I need to fix. It’s not as easy as people think, and I like the challenge,” said Daniel.

Winkler also appreciates the relationships she has developed during her time with the program. “I have danced with CAPA since I was 4 years old and I dance because it is a strong passion of mine and I have made best friends growing up with it.”

According to the dancers, The Nutcracker production is extremely time consuming. “There’s definitely less time to study, so I tend to do homework during lunch and whenever I get the chance. A lot of people will pull out their phones during reading period, and while I’d much rather do that, I just have to remind myself that I’m not getting home until close to 10 tonight and if I don’t pull out that math textbook now I definitely won’t want to when I’m half dead after class,” said Daniel.

Wolff noted that the time crunch actually helps her stay organized. “Doing The Nutcracker and CAPA takes up a lot of time. It does make it hard to do my homework and study for tests but the crammed time makes me use better time management,” she explained. “I have learned to manage my time wisely so that I can do well in school and dance.”

While dance may not be the specific career path that she takes, Daniel believe her experience will prepare her well for future endeavors.  “I’d like to think that I’ll do something in the arts in the future and that it’ll directly impact my life, but that’s rather unlikely. It [dance] forces me to focus and gives me discipline that’ll be useful in whatever I end up doing,” she said.

Dance will always be a part of my life, even if I don’t choose to be a professional dancer as a career,” Winkler said.

In spite of their extensive performing experience, they still had butterflies. “It was kind of unbelievable. I didn’t think I had a chance at the role, so getting it was amazing to me. I was really nervous while performing because I wanted to do a good job,” said Daniel.

“It’s the wanting to do my very best and please the audience that makes me nervous,” said Wolf.

“Performing in The Nutcracker is very time consuming and tiring but in the end it is so much fun being able to perform for everyone and dance with your friends up on stage. We always bond even more during show week and support each other a lot,” said Winkler.