Chasing Checkers – So Mr. Nutcrakcer. You mind if I call you that? You’re kind of a celebrity in Charlotte. You’re one of the many stars of North Carolina Dance Theatre’s Holiday production, right?
The Nutcracker – Actually, my friends call me Chuck. And the ballet is named after me, so I’d say I’m one of the stars!
CC – Hmm… I think I’ll stick with Nutcracker. I hear you are a hockey fan. Any team in particular?
The NC – Well, obviously as a Charlottean, I love the Checkers. They are fierce! They skate fast, and occasionally do spinoramas much like the dancers in my show who can do pirouettes.
CC – So do you have a favorite player on the team?
The NC – Nicolas Blanchard, obviously. First of all, he speaks French, which is the language of ballet. But mostly, I love that he drops the gloves and fights. I love a good fight!
CC – You know, I’m a bit surprised with one so ingrained in the world of ballet condones violence and fighting…
The NC – OH, my shining moment in the ballet named after me is a fierce battle between myself and the Rat King. I hate that stinking rat king and his minions of mice. My toy soldiers overcome though. I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but I win the battle. Every night!
CC – So, let me guess, when you come to a Checkers game, your favorite snack from the food stand is a bag of peanuts?
The NC – Actually, no. I’m allergic. But don’t let that get out… its hard to be a Nutcracker allergic to nuts! I carry an epi pen and try not to ingest them, and do alright.
CC – Wow. I learned something new. So, if you don’t eat peanuts at the game, what is your favorite snack?
The NC – Cotton Candy, obviously. My homeland, you know, is the Land of Sweets. It’s a lot like Canada, cold and snowy with delicious candy and ballet segments named after some of my favorites… Candy Canes, Marzipan, Tiramisu (which is not a flavor of soup, I get asked that a lot), and of course those tasty little Ginger candies. I have been trying to get a ballet choreographed after my favorite Canadian candy, Coffee Crisp, but so far my request hasn’t been honored.
CC – So what element of a Checkers game would improve North Carolina Dance Theater’s production of the Nutcracker?
The NC – I really think a cameo by some of the Checkers during my battle with the Rat King would be outstanding. Maybe some cross checking, a bit of fancy stickhandling. It would be exciting!
CC – You work with professional dancers? What do you think of the Charlotte Checkmates?
The NC – I love them! They are nice, sparkly and enthusiastic. I wish there were more pom poms in ballet. The only thing I wish was that they’d wear tutus when they dance at the games. It would be awesome!
CC – So, are there Zambonis in ballet?
The NC – Unfortunately, no. There are however a talented crew of IATSE Stagehands who mop the stage and clean up all of the snow that falls from the magical fly loft during the first act.
CC – It sounds like I should come and see your show though. With Rat King battles, falling snow and girls in tutus.
The NC – I think it’s a pretty great event. It’s not hockey, and you probably won’t see anyone get punched in the face and blood doesn’t bounce off the dance floor like it does ice, but it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours. Check out the NCDT website for performance dates and tickets!