Oooooh sneak attack, sneak attack of Christmas joy. I was not ready for that.
Last weekend, my Norfolk friends had their Nutcracker CD playing in the background while we were chatting in the living room. I forget every year how much power that particular music has over me; did I mention that I sat eagerly through the Nutcracker every single year from age five to well into adulthood? And that I took eight years of ballet growing up, and then another year in college? And that loving ballet has ruined me for any other form of dance, except maybe flamenco and possibly dancing on the furniture at the Pour House if the band is flawless? And that the Nutcracker means Christmas is coming? And that the Dance of the Snowflakes is my absolute favorite?
The Dance of the Snowflakes came on while we were in Norfolk in the living room, and I got all excited and made everyone stop and listen. “This is it! This is where the lone snowflake goes flying across the stage in seventeen pirouettes! Remember? Who remembers??”
Nobody remembered, exactly. But my friend Andie and I reminisced about growing up going to the same Nutcracker, put on by the School of the Arts at the Stevens Center in Winston-Salem. There will never be another Nutcracker, as far as I’m concerned. Certainly not a better one. And I’ve been thinking about it all week, sitting in the balcony at age five and too little for my feet to touch the floor, wanting to be Clara more than I wanted anything else in the world.
Tonight I came home and curled up on the couch, and the Nutcracker was on. It’s the version I love, with the George Balanchine choreography. I got home just in time to see the Christmas tree start to blink, then grow, then overtake the stage, and watch the battle of the Mouse King, which Clara wins by throwing her slipper at him. And then the stage dissolves into a wintry fairyland, and the snowflakes flutter out timidly, then in clusters, then in a blizzard of leaps and spins. It’s winter magic. Christmas magic.
Last week I mentioned that I needed my five-year old self back for a few minutes. Funny how these things work. Tonight I got out my old ballet shoes, and watched the Dance of the Snowflakes, and practiced pirouttes in my living room. They were wobbly pirouettes. Dangerously wobbly pirouettes, and they felt great.
From me to you: the Dance of the Snowflakes. Feel free to dance along at home. And I hope you end up with Christmas all over you, just like I did.