Plattsburgh The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition for fans of the show and a labor of love for those who put it together.
This year, the North Country Ballet Ensemble performed the popular ballet in Plattsburgh Nov. 23-25 and will perform in Lake Placid Dec. 1 and 2.
The performance was choreographed by resident choreographer Terpsie Toon of the Lake Placid School of Ballet and guest choreographers Rebecca Kelly of Rebecca Kelly Ballet and Michela Boschetto from the NCBE creative team.
Led by NCBE’s Artistic Director Alice Schonbek, the show will feature 70 local student dancers, 10 community members and guest ballerina Therese Wendler.
Guest performer Mikhail Ilyin, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia who dances for American Ballet Theatre, assumed the role of Cavalier in the Plattsburgh performance.
In Lake Placid, the role of Cavalier will be performed by Andres Neira of New Jersey Ballet.
But it isn’t all sugar plums and bonbons for the performers, many of whom take time out of their otherwise busy schedules to perfect their moves by rehearsing almost daily.
For Schonbek, it’s easy to justify devoting that much time—she has had a passion for the art form since she was a child and watching her students evolve is a major component of that passion.
“It’s the sheer number of hours of having to work to perfect things that aren’t necessarily natural for your body,” Schonbek said. “It’s a real balance between the athleticism and the finer points.”
An advanced training schedule for a ballerina is a full-time job. Between daily classes and rehearsals, a dancer can easily net more than 30 hours a week in practice time.
But the practice isn’t just about stretching and dancing—instructors analyze every motion and every position, and constantly make corrections.
“No matter how old you get you always have someone mentoring you,” Schonbek said. “The rehearsal process is all about being corrected.”