Nuts about ballet

Freshman performs in The Nutcracker


Photo Courtesy of Ellie Gorman

Freshman Ellie Gorman rehearses with American Midwest Ballet for their production of The Nutcracker. Gorman has been dancing for a majority of her life but began dancing with AMB one year ago. Throughout that year she has improved greatly and learned new skills. “Dancing with AMB has taught me so much,” Gorman said. “The most important thing is patience. AMB helped me understand that I am not the only one performing so I have to wait patiently”

Annabelle Harshbarger, Staff Reporter

Sugar Plum fairies, rat queens and a Nutcracker Prince all dance gracefully across stage telling the story of The Nutcracker, a famous ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. On December 7th and 8th American Midwest Ballet did their annual performances of The Nutcracker at the Orpheum Theater. There are many professional and student dancers that perform. Freshman Novella Gorman had the opportunity to be a student dancer in The Nutcracker this year.  

Gorman has been dancing for 10 years and although she has taken ballet her whole life she just began to take it seriously two years ago. After she began to focus on ballet she started to dance with American Midwest Ballet in 2018 and has improved greatly. Dancing with AMB has given her many opportunities to learn new techniques and skills.

“Working with American Midwest Ballet I have become a better dancer all-around,” Gorman said. “Before I was mediocre at best but after dancing with them I feel like I have unlocked my full potential”

Gorman has performed in The Nutcracker for the past five years and has danced many parts such as little Drosselmeyer the sugar plum court and a Chinese dancer. This year she performed for the second time on the sugar plum court and as a Chinese Dancer. The experience of performing in a professional environment has taught Gorman many valuable skills but to her the most important skill is patience.

After performing in The Nutcracker for many years Gorman has become accustomed to the audition process. She has become more confident in her auditioning and is now much calmer when she auditions.

“Auditions are pretty stressful the first year but after that it is a pretty basic audition,” Gorman said. “We learn a short dance then we are given a number and split into groups to audition.” 

The dancers spent two months rehearsing for the show. Over those months they rehearse once a week for about an hour, but as the show approaches they begin to work even harder practicing five times a week for five hours a day. The intense rehearsal and practice ensures that the show will run smoothly and flawlessly.

After months of rehearsing and perfecting it was finally time for the show. American Midwest Ballet does multiple shows at both the Orpheum Theater and The Iowa Western Arts Center. The show has become a tradition for many families and the theatre is always packed. Performing in front of such a large audience may seem daunting to some but for Gorman, it is not a problem.

 “I love performing for the large audience it’s my favorite part of The Nutcracker,” Gorman said. “It makes me feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself”

The performance itself can be stressful for Gorman at times. The quick changes and high pressure is enough to get to anyone, but Gorman doesn’t let that get to her and she performs her best every time.

“Before I perform I am both nervous and excited,” Gorman said. “When I am backstage I have a quick change that can be stressful, but when I am on stage I calm down and allow myself to just focus on dancing.” 

Overall the experience of performing in The Nutcracker has been wonderful for Gorman. She hopes to continue her ballet career and continue to progress on her technique and skills.