The Nutcracker Prep: A Rehearsal Day with Jaime Lynn Witts

By Maryls Norman, Ballet Austin Trainee

Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood

Ballet Austin dancers spend two months preparing for The Nutcracker performances. What does a day during The Nutcracker rehearsal season look like for a dancer in Ballet Austin? I interviewed dancer Jamie Lynn Witts to find out.

A normal day for Jaime begins at 9 a.m. with a technique class to warm up her body and prepare her for her day. It is important for her to use this class not only as a warm up, but also to work on steps like pirouettes and jumps that she will use later in choreography. After class, Jaime is called to a private rehearsal for the Snow King and Snow Queen where she and her partner will practice the Snow Pas de Deux. While the Snow Corps girls are running through their part in a separate room, Jaime and her partner have the chance to practice their material without distraction. The rehearsal director is also able to give undivided attention to the couple rather than trying to watch everyone at once.

Next, Jaime heads to a rehearsal for the entrance and finale of Act II in The Nutcracker. It is helpful to break apart a large ballet like The Nutcracker into more manageable pieces to rehearse, rather than running through the entire ballet each rehearsal. This saves time and allows the rehearsal director to work on specific problems without the entire company having to wait for their turn. When it gets closer to the show however, it is useful to run The Nutcracker from start to finish in order to work out transitions between divertissements (short dances in Act II).

To finish her day, Jaime rehearses her second role in The Nutcracker: the Waltz of the Flowers soloist. Just like in the morning, the Flowers Corps girls are separated from her so that she can get the most out of the rehearsal.

When you see the dancers in The Nutcracker performing seemingly effortless movements, remember that it takes hours of hard work to put on the show!

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