Recently I watched part of a Hallmark movie featuring a ballerina dancing The Nutcracker — and I choked up and darn near cried. Especially when she danced to a couple of the oboe solos.
You see, for the last eight or nine years, I’ve been down in the orchestra pit, playing oboe for a local ballet troupe, and the movie brought home to me more forcefully than just about anything else how much the pandemic has affected me. How much has been lost. How many good times we’ll never get back.
Don’t get me wrong. Losing a Nutcracker performance is far from the worst thing about the pandemic. It just triggered me.
In Alien Contact for a Christmas Nutcracker, Holly the new conductor, watches the dancers rehearse . . . and she get a rude shock
Within seconds after the bass drum boomed, her heart sank as she realized the dance troupe wasn’t rehearsing The Nutcracker. Or any other ballet, for that matter.
Any ballet of this world, she amended. One by one, a dozen dancers moved in a graceful line as though carrying burdens that they mimed piling them atop the jumble of boxes and then danced to the back of the stage in a brief solo. The steps were more like popular modern dance than ballet, but there were differences. This dance was intent on telling a story rather than showing off the dancers’ moves.
And the story it told was most emphatically not that of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet.
“What is –” she began, but pinched her lips shut before saying going on. He’d told her to say nothing, but that wasn’t why she kept her confusion to herself. The best way to handle some guys was to show them you weren’t intimidated and hope they’d respect you rather than declare war.
When he was done and waved his arms to direct his troupe into the next scene, she stomped over to him in a polite, ladylike way and tapped his arm. He hadn’t put his shirt back on, so that meant touching his skin. He was a dancer, though, a tactile person who wouldn’t mind being touched.
He turned to her. “Not a word, remember?” He raised his finger to touch her lips again.
“Don’t do that.” She backed away. “Jeez, why do you have to touch me?”
His lips parted and turned up at the corners. “Because the first time felt so…interesting.”
He’d felt it too? Well, well, well.
Is there a particular pandemic loss that has triggered you?
Alien Contact for a Christmas Nutcracker
The Nutcracker ballet … for and by aliens?
Holly Jansen, a young orchestra conductor down on her luck, is secretly hired by an alien king to conduct The Nutcracker on Kwadra Island as a Christmas present for his American wife. This big break seems like a Christmas miracle. But after she meets the lead dancer, she wonders if it’s a curse, instead . . .
. . . because the queen has secretly ordered Rafe Sekwa, dancer extraordinaire, to produce a native potlatch ceremony honoring her husband’s ancestors — on the same day, time, and stage as The Nutcracker. The stubborn genius is determined to do so no matter what. Soon Holly finds her ambition melting in the face of her growing admiration and love.
Which will she choose — love or her dreams?