Houston Ballet’s The Nutcracker 2012


By Lorel Kane
BALLET KIDSThe Nutcracker Ballet may be the most popular ballet of all times, certainly of the Christmas season.
The classic fairy tale centers on the story of a Christmas Eve celebration written by E.T.A. Hoffmann. The Moscow Imperial Theater’s director commissioned renowned composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to write the music and choreographer Marius Petipa to design the dances. It premiered one week before Christmas in 1892.
Photo by Amitava Sarkar: Dancer Rhodes Elliot and Artists of Houston Ballet.

The Nutcracker did not make it to America until 1944, when it was first presented at the San Francisco Ballet. Ever since it has been an integral part of Christmas festivities across the nation.
This year, The Houston Ballet is celebrating its 25th anniversary production of The Nutcracker. The Houston Ballet has performed this family classic for more than one-million people since its premiere in 1987.



ParentsPost had the pleasure of talking to one of the young dancers from The Nutcracker who tells us what it has been like to be part of this Christmas tradition. He has been dancing since he was nine years old, and this will be his fourth year performing in The Nutcracker. We asked 14-year-old Luke Curtis to share with us how he became a professional dancer and what it entails.
The Houston Ballet’s performances of The Nutcracker begin on November 23, the day after Thanksgiving. Luke’s first performance will be Saturday, November 24. This will be his fourth, and possibly, last year in the ballet.


ParentsPost: Do you have to audition every year?

LUKE CURTIS: You do have to audition every year. They’ll usually accept you if you’ve been in it more than once. If you have the most experience you can be a leader for the other kids.

ParentsPost: Since this is your fourth time to audition for The Nutcracker, was it different this time?

LUKE CURTIS: I was good. I knew what was coming already.

FOURBALLET ParentsPost: What role are you dancing this year?
LUKE CURTIS: I am the first boy to come on stage and get in the sled and I’m the last one to come to the party.

ParentsPost: When did you first see The Nutcracker before you danced in it?
LUKE CURTIS: Never! My mom signed me up and I didn’t really know at first and when she told me I was like, “really?” And here I am today.

ParentsPost: Do you remember what your first audition was like? Were you scared or nervous?
LUKE CURTIS: Well, I was just learning and I had to remember everything and trying not to make mistakes. Kind of nervous.

ParentsPost: What was your first role?
LUKE CURTIS: I was the boy who pulled the dad across the stage and I was also the one who got the sword and ran for the tree.

LUKE1ParentsPost: Do you remember your very first performance and what it felt like?
LUKE CURTIS: Well, my very first performance I was very nervous that I would make a mistake and that everyone would notice it and I would just run off the stage if I did that, but I never made a mistake. Everything went good.

ParentsPost: How many years can you keep doing this?
LUKE CURTIS: This might be my last because I might grow. I can do it as many years as I want as long as I don’t get taller because if you’re at a certain height you can’t be in it anymore.


ParentsPost: What does it feel like to be on stage at the Wortham Center?
LUKE CURTIS: It makes you realize how big things can get from a small group you performed in at first to a really big theater. At the performance you are excited and then nervous about what’s going on.

FOURBALLET1ParentsPost: How do you feel when you are up on the stage performing?
LUKE CURTIS: Actually, what I think about myself is how much work I had to go through for all of this, that I had to do it all to get all the way here. I’m proud that I made it that far.

ParentsPost: Where do your parents sit when they come to the performances and how do you feel when you know they are watching?
LUKE CURTIS: I don’t know where they sit because it’s too dark to see the audience. When I know that they’re there I feel like I’ve accomplished something and they see that I’ve accomplished it.

ParentsPost: Your parents can’t come to every performance, how do you feel when they’re not there?
LUKE CURTIS: I feel the same way, except they didn’t get to see it.

ParentsPost: What do you think your parents think about your performances?
LUKE CURTIS: I think they are proud of me for dancing in The Nutcracker.

ParentsPost: And what about your friends?
LUKE CURTIS: They think it’s exciting that I get to be on stage and dance.

CHECKParentsPost: How many performances do you do each year?
LUKE CURTIS: More than twelve, I think.

ParentsPost: Since you are dancing with a professional ballet company, do you get paid?
LUKE CURTIS: Yes, I get paid. Right when it’s the last show they’ll send me a check for $100.


ParentsPost: What made you interested in learning how to dance?
LUKE CURTIS: I was at a wedding one time and I saw the dancing (and according to Luke’s mom, he just started dancing and so impressed one of the other guests that he gave Luke a dollar). After that I kind of moved on. I think it’s just because of the movement I get to do and everything and I just get to be myself, at times, when I’m dancing.

TWOBALLETParentsPost: What’s in your future?
LUKE CURTIS: I’ll continue taking lessons at The Houston Ballet Academy and try to get into HSPVA next year, so I could start dancing there, too. I also dance with Planet Funk. It’s a Saturday dance hip-hop class. They also do performances. One of the places that we perform is the Aeros Hockey games. They perform different places, too. We shoot videos and stuff and it’s really fun.

Luke says he would like to be a professional dancer, so maybe, just maybe, you might see him at the Wortham Center dancing in the principal male role of this Christmas classic as The Nutcracker Prince.

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