Holiday Dance Traditions

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December 6, 2013 by Nicole

The holiday season conjures up so many images in our minds: family, joy, hope, peace….the list goes on. But for me, the holidays are primarily about traditions.

I started thinking about holiday dance traditions. For me, the Nutcracker was a big part of my holiday every year. I loved performing in that show and that cast of characters still hold a special place in my heart. To this day, when I hear the party scene music – in the very beginning, as all the guests are arriving – it makes me feel like its Christmas. Those notes so perfectly capture the warmth and bustle of the holidays for me. And, to this day, I can’t hear the Sugar Plum pas de deux without instantly feeling a little bit sad. It became my musical cue that our show was almost over. It just sounds like an ending to me.

I may no longer perform in the Nutcracker every year, but it remains special to me. I’m so lucky to live in a city that provides many opportunities to see it performed live. (Check out the list here.) And there are even more ways to watch now, through movie theaters and TV. A recent tradition for me has become watching different versions of the ballet on Ovation. This year, they’re showing four unique versions: The Story of Clara, Mariinsky’s Nutcracker,  San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, and Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! (You can also vote online for your favorite of the four and Ovation will give it an encore showing on December 23.)

The Nutcracker is an obvious and common choice for ballet schools, but I’m curious about what other holiday dance traditions are out there? I’ll always remember a summer intensive classmate telling me that her school didn’t perform Nutcracker – instead, they made a ballet of The Little Match Girl. This month in Orlando, there is a performance of the traditional Christmas story, told through dance. While not overtly tied to the holidays, The Center for Contemporary Dance’s winter concert, Joyful & Triumphant, is another local tradition that plays on the spirit of the season. And personally, I’ve always thought it would be a ton of fun to do a holiday concert, using all kinds of contemporary and traditional holiday music. (I think this was really inspired by an acro/dance number I saw once that was set to Christmas Eve/Sarajevo by Trans Siberian Orchestra.)

What about you? What are your holiday dance traditions?

About the author: I’m a professional communicator with a love of dance, entertainment and constant improvement. You can find me on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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