Dancing mice, courageous soldiers, and magic lands filled with cake sound like a dream come true. In the timeless Christmas story of “The Nutcracker,” Clara, a young girl with vivid dreams, fights battles with a Mouse King and visits beautiful lands of snow and sweets. Three Marian girls, seniors Natalie Ashbrook and Caitlin Ricker and sophomore Nina Oleynikov, are dancing in the yearly Christmas productions of “The Nutcracker.”
Ricker and Oleynikov are performing with the Nebraska Ballet in this year’s production of “The Nutcracker.” Oleynikov, with the role of a French cake, is dancing in “The Nutcracker” for the second time this Christmas. Ricker, in her 10th production of the show, has the role of a butterfly this Christmas season.
“It’s really fun being backstage… because you get really close with everyone when you spend two weeks spending the entire day with them,” Ricker said.
“My favorite part was when you’d be at the Orpheum really late at night and you had a break, and you’d go to Starbucks with your friends and, like, your makeup is half off, and everyone looks really gross, but it’s just really fun,” Oleynikov said.
“It creates a real family environment,” Ashbrook said. Ashbrook will be performing as a Russian soloist with Adair Dance Academy for her seventh year.
However, it’s not all fun and games for these girls. They are dedicated
to acquiring the skills necessary to perform in such a renowned show as “The Nutcracker.” Oleynikov practices every day of the week with her own private workouts on top of that.
Though Ricker has cut back over the years, she has definitely put in her fair share of time in the practice studio. “My sophomore year, I was at dance every single day except for Sunday for a minimum of three hours,” Ricker said. Ashbrook’s lessons take place year-round as well.
“The Nutcracker” has been a Christmas tradition for decades. “It’s really fun to go with your family and little kids, who get really excited about it … and it’s a good way to get kids really invested in the arts early on,” Ash- brook said.
“The Nutcracker” truly affects young children. Oleynikov has been going to the show since she was a child. “Ever since I was a little girl, I went to [“The Nutcracker”], and then I started being in [the shows]. I think it’s just a fun show, and it’s really cool, even at this age, to see adults dancing as a profession,” Oleynikov said.
Though tickets are sold out for the Ballet Nebraska show, The Adair Dance Academy performance will be held at the Bellevue Little Theatre, and tickets cost between $12 and $22. “It’s a really good way to support your community,” Ashbrook said.
The hours spent in the rehearsal room have truly paid off for these girls as their performances have come to pass. Ricker and Oleynikov took the stage Nov. 22, Dec. 5, and Dec. 6, while Ashbrook danced on Dec. 4-6 and has additional performances tonight, Saturday, and Sunday.
After weeks of dedication, the shows have finally come together for a night of Christmas magic.