Just 10 days remain…
With our Golden Anniversary production of The Nutcracker opening in a mere few weeks, I thought you might like a peek inside a Sugar Plum Fairy’s dance bag.
Twelve-year Company Member Aara Krumpe really likes “the familiar.” Whether it’s wearing warm-ups she’s owned for years (pictured above), standing at “her” spot at the barre, or eating oatmeal for lunch every day, tradition is the name of her game.
How very fitting for a Sugar Plum Fairy…
Since Aara was 15, she’s warmed up every day at the barre in a pair of old, soft pointe shoes. As her rehearsal and performance pointe shoes “die”, she cuts off the laces and saves them for barre work. In her words, ‘they just feel better than wearing ballet slippers!’
Something else Aara can’t live without is her yoga block, which she uses to do splits, stretches and to lay flat. In another note on tradition, Frank Shott – with whom Aara will dance for the 7th year and her barre mate since 2001 – constantly steals the block.
Aara brings her ballet bag, originally a diaper bag given to her by Trainees, to and from work each day and then keeps a smaller separate bag in the studio for rehearsal. Her must-have dance bag essentials? A surprisingly small number of things:
- Cheap White Rain hairspray (she is the “wispy tamer”)
- A tupperware of oatmeal for lunch each day – “I realized I’m not a protein person. I need carbs. Oatmeal gives me enough energy and stays with me all day.”
- Emergen-C, just in case
- At least one unsewn pair of shoes and her sewing bag
- Thera-band for stretching and strengthening
With The Nutcracker rapidly approaching, I asked how long a pair of pointe shoes – which take her 30 or 40 minutes to prepare – will last. Her answer? “Two run-throughs.”
Last but not least, I asked Aara if she has any secret tricks or tips. She had two suggestions for me:
- Elasticized pointe shoe ribbons (available at Discount Dance Supply), which are more comfortable over her Achilles tendon
- Perry’s Pork Chop Fridays. See you there?
You can see Aara on stage this holiday season dancing as Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. For tickets, click here.
Image via ballerinagallery.com
By Alexa Jean Capareda and Danielle Savka, Ballet Austin Trainees
As the Sugar Plum Fairy in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, New York City Ballet dancer Darci Kistler captivated audiences with her charming, yet innocent, performing quality and grace. Her sparkling performances gave her the status of the “It” Sugar Plum Fairy.
Born: June 4, 1964
Hometown: Riverside, California
Darci Kistler received her early training from Irina Kosmovska at Riverside Ballet Arts in southern California. In 1979, she was selected to study at Balanchine’s School of American Ballet.
Most Famous For:
Dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the New York City Ballet’s 1993 film version of The Nutcracker. Her long, slender body, effortless charm, strong technique, and genuine personality made her perfect for the role. She became the successor to Suzanne Farrell, George Balanchine’s muse, and was awarded many roles, including leading roles in Balanchine’s Jewels (“Diamonds”), Agon, Prodigal Son, and Symphony in C. She always danced with confidence, and added depth to many of her signature roles.
- Darci Kistler joined the New York City Ballet as a member of the corps de ballet in 1980 and became a soloist in 1981. In 1982, at the age of 17, she became the youngest-ever principal dancer.
- Before she began studying ballet, Kistler enjoyed many sports, including skiing, waterskiing, swimming, tennis, football, and dirt biking.
- In 1991 she married dancer, choreographer, and New York City Ballet director Peter Martins. They have one daughter, Talicia, born in 1996.
To learn more about Darci Kistler, explore these resources:
- Lincoln Kirstein’s Thirty Years New York City Ballet. London: A & C Black, 1979. Print.
Lincoln Kirstein gives his first-hand account and thoughts on working with Balanchine and famous dancers with the New York City Ballet.
- Frank Augustyn and Shelly Tanaka. Footnotes – Dancing the World’s Best-Loved Ballets. Brookfield: Millbrook, 2001.
An in-depth exploration of the roles in famous ballets; The Nutcracker and the Sugar Plum Fairy role are described.
- George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (1993). Emile Ardilino. New York City Ballet. 1993. New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker on film, with Darci Kistler dancing in her famous role of Sugar Plum Fairy.