Local teen performs in ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet
By TRISHA PHELPS
Mt. Pleasant News
There are few things that can put a person in the Christmas mood faster than The Nutcracker.
Earlier this month, 30 members of the University of Iowa Youth Ballet and School of Dance performed in a professional production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, including Mt. Pleasant’s Ellie Conrad.
The performance with Ballet Quad Cities and Orchestra Iowa was held at the Paramount Theater in Cedar Rapids and was Conrad’s first experience performing with a professional ballet company.
“We have danced with college dancers and some really fabulous dancers before, but we have never with actual professional dancers,” said Conrad. “That was really eye-opening, I think.”
Since Conrad had never performed with a professional ballet company, she has also never had the opportunity to perform in a place like the Paramount Theater. The experience left a lasting impression.
“The theater was really beautiful,” said Conrad. “It was pretty cool. They had a live orchestra and everything which was a first for all of us younger dancers, and that was really cool.
“It was also really neat because we got to see professional dancers up close and everything,” she continued. “Being able to watch from the sidelines and a backstage view was really interesting. We got to spend two nights up there for rehearsal. The first time we went into the theater it was full of gold and very pretty and there were all of these beautiful dancers on stage. It was really incredible.”
Another part of the experience Conrad enjoyed had nothing to do with the ballet.
“We were all kind of excited because they had live reindeer right outside the theater,” said Conrad. “It was really random and had nothing to do with the performance, but it did help put us in the Christmas spirit.”
In performing with the professional company, Conrad had the opportunity to experience the difference between ballet class and ballet as a profession.
“When we do our normal performances we only have two – one per night – but with The Nutcracker, we had three performances in two days. We had a matinée and an evening performance on Saturday and then a matinée on Sunday,” said Conrad. “Having two performances in one day was very different for us. We weren’t used to it, but we had very small parts, so it was kind of cool to have that and get to feel more professional.”
While this was Conrad’s first time performing with a professional dance company, this was by no means her first performance.
“We have performances at the end of each semester and I have participated in those for several years now. I’ve been in some sort of dance since kindergarten, so I have no idea how I got started, but I am glad I did,” said Conrad. “I really love it.”