Nutcracker Memories ’07 – ‘14
I have been with Imagine Ballet Theatre in the Nutcracker for the past 7 years. My name is Danielle Lee Dreis and every December I have been a part of The Nutcracker directed by Raymond Van Mason. This ballet is filled with magic, dreaming, dancing snowflakes, romance, and childhood memories.
In 2007, I had the honor of performing as a Party Girl, Toy Soldier, Page, and a Gingerette. The opening scene attending Clara’s Christmas party is a fun and exciting scene. The little girls wear bright colored dresses with big bows in their curly locks. I fondly remember the vibrant color of my blue dress that year. The boys wear cute little vests and bow ties around their necks. Dancing as a Party Girl is a huge role for character development. The children play with Clara, happily receive gifts, get excited for the toys, and tire when it’s time to go home. Throughout the entire scene I was able to develop my character by interacting with Clara and the other characters while reacting to the main focus of the scene. As a Gingerette, I jumped out from under the skirt of Mother Ginger performed by Burke Stone. This has always been one of my favorite roles. I loved dancing to the fun and joyful music. Entering under a giant tent like dress and surprising the audience with our colorful appearance was a great way to start the dance. Clapping and cartwheeling until the very end of the song. I always felt special to get the part of blowing the audience a Great BIG Kiss and running off stage. I love that Ray created Imagine Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker with various parts, levels, and characters. As you get older and increase in skill the roles and dancing get harder. I always looked up to the older dancers playing parts like Doll, Snow, Arabian, and Mirliton.
In 2008, I danced Party Girl once again in the same blue dress. This year I was no longer one of the youngest Party Girls but was continuing to advance in roles. From Party Girl, I changed quickly into a Toy Solder costume. The Toy Soldiers had wooden guns as props and fought next to the Nutcracker. I always enjoyed fighting the Rats because my cousin Vince Hendricks was one of them. In Act 2, I danced as a Page and an Arabian Girl. The Pages enter at the beginning of Act 2 and act as the Sugar Plum Fairy’s servants. We had purple capes and purple feathers on our hats. I enjoyed the spritely dancing and framing of Clara’s entrance into the Land of the Sweets. Backstage I will always remember the quick change from Page to Arabian. Arabian was always fun for me because I related it to Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. We wore two piece blue silk and chiffon customs with gold coins around the bodice. We also got the opportunity to dance with a silk scarf. I worked extremely hard to get my right splits all year because I knew this dance required the ability to slide into the splits without hands. I love watching and dancing with the Arabian Queen and her Prince dreaming one day I would get the opportunity to dance that part.
In 2009, we performed Nutcracker and I was once again a Party Girl. I received many of the same parts as the year before. I continued to improve as a Toy Soldier, Page, and Arabian. As a Page this year, I felt special because I pushed the sleigh out for Clara. In Arabian I danced every year prior with my favorite Arabian Queen Jessica Barraza. Each year the Nutcracker brings the Christmas spirit and one of the things IBT does as a company is perform to the schools. As a young dancer I really enjoyed performing to children my own age. I knew not very many kids had the opportunity I had to miss school and perform with a wonderful family of
dancers. Another thing IBT does each year is they enter a float in the Ogden City Christmas parade to prepare the community for a rendition of The Nutcracker.
In 2010, this was the last year I would perform with my sister Marquelle Dreis. I danced both the Snowflake and Waltz of the Flowers with her. She also danced as the Maid, a Mother at the Party, and Spanish. She is and will always remain to be my favorite Spanish dancer of all time. I have always looked up to her and am thankful to have received the opportunity to dance with her for so many years. She is the reason I joined Imagine Ballet Theatre. My other roles included Party Girl and one of the Chinese characters.
In 2011, I was given the opportunity to perform as the Toy Drummer and did not share this role with anyone. I enjoyed dancing every show. I was a tall Snowflake and flower in Waltz of the Flowers. I shared the role of Mirliton and the main Chinese Queen. I switched characters every other night. I felt very special to have been the first Main Chinese pointe girl where in the previous years it had been a male. Being the first to receive this role the choreography was choreographed on me and Tessa Parkinson.
The next year, 2012, I loved dancing as a Snowflake alongside my best friend, Rachel Duffin, who was Snow Queen at the time. I danced in Waltz of the Flowers and Mirliton and shared the roles of Toy Drummer and Chinese Queen.
The year 2013 was one of my favorite years because I received the honorary role of the Snow Queen. I loved dancing this character because I have always enjoyed dancing in the snow scene as well as getting to wear the beautiful tutu and ice crystal crown. As Snow Queen, in every show, I pushed out the sleigh at the end of the act and danced with the Nutcracker Prince and my favorite Clara, MaKayla Woods. This will always be one of my favorite roles in closing Act I. I was also a flower in Waltz of the Flowers. I not only got the main role of Snow Queen but also played the main role of Main Chinese Queen for every show. This year the main roles were performed by some of my best friends, Catherine Aoki as Clara, Ashleigh Richardson as Sugar Plum Fairy, and I as Snow Queen.
This year 2014 will be the seventh year I am dancing in The Nutcracker with Imagine Ballet Theatre. I’m excited to dance with all the younger dancers in the roles I once had including the pages, angels, and divertissements. I am so excited to be highlighted in the star role of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Sugar Plum was performed in previous years by many great dancers I have always looked up to. My favorite who has danced this role is Christie Freebairn. Looking back when I first began dancing two of the older company dancers I admired were Jennifer Jackson and Macall Bowden who both danced Clara and Sugar Plum at one time. I have always hoped to dance in their shoes, and now the role of Sugar Plum Fairy is mine.
By Danielle Lee Dreis