WMYB’s The Nutcracker was an ‘on pointe’ performance


Sophie Erbentraut

A moment captured from backstage of The Nutcracker from this past weekend

With endless hours of sewing pointe shoes, executing choreography, and bedazzling tutus, for two consecutive weekends in December, West Michigan Youth Ballet (WMYB) puts on the most classical performance of the winter season: The Nutcracker. 

With showings that happened on Saturday, Dec. 11th and Sunday, Dec. 12th, as an attendee, it was clear that the cast of The Nutcracker has dedicated an insane amount of time to meet perfection. The choreography was precisely and enticingly beautiful, the costumes were stunning, and the dancers were alluring as they waltzed underneath the stage lights. 

Speaking as a guest who has peers in the show, there was an element of excitement when I spotted my friends tiptoeing and sashaying across the stage. However, that wasn’t the only aspect of thrill; the iconic musical soundtrack of The Nutcracker mesmerized me as the dancers matched the melodies. As if I didn’t think the instrumental tracks could sound any more beautiful, the choreography flawlessly complemented each and every song with every debut. 

(Sophie Erbentraut)

The storyline follows a little girl, Clara. It’s Christmas Eve, and she is thrilled to be given a present from her godfather: a nutcracker. Just as Clara’s nutcracker comes to life, he transforms her evening into a whirlwind of vivid dreamscape, with visits from the Sugar Plum Fairy to the Snow Queen and her ensemble. Throughout the ballet, Clara and her Nutcracker Prince battle the Mouse King, finding their way to the Land of Sweets. 

I could go on for hours, raving over how perfectly done the costumes are. Heather Cassady, the designer, did a phenomenal job in making these costumes shine on stage, and it is obvious that every diamond stud was placed so precisely, and every piece of fabric is strategically sewn. These costumes were seriously out of this world. 

Sophie Erbentraut

To address the actual performance, it was nothing less than sensational. With straight legs and pointed feet, the dancers embodied their characters entirely, and they kept that same execution throughout the two-hour-long show. It is impressive because they do a total of five shows, and as a viewer of the fourth one, that performance quality was nonetheless, still there and beaming. 

Due to having five different show times, the cast members have to have multiple different roles for each performance. Therefore, they have to learn and memorize complex choreography ranging from one character to another. Additionally, they have quick-changes and have to personify each character’s illustration, practice by practice, performance by performance. It truly shows how talented and dedicated these performers are and validates their professionalism. 

Taken after the show, hugging my friend, Sophie, congratulating her on such an awesome performance. (Abby Drueke)

I found myself smiling, sitting on the edge of my seat and subtly nodding my head in unison with the dancers’ every move. I was so entranced into this ballet performance—perhaps because I’m a dancer. Even though I was once a ballerina, I’ve never been this amused with such slow, graceful arm movements and leg lifts. 

Sophie Erbentraut

The backdrop, the props, the storyline, the stage lights, and the costumes—it all fed into making The Nutcracker such a successful annual performance. It all fed into truly feeling the dancers’ passions, watching them live in the moment under each spotlight.    

So I insist: go see The Nutcracker. You can buy tickets for the fifth and final performance at Frauenthal Center in Muskegon on Saturday Dec. 18th, at 3 p.m., and truly, it is the performance of the season. 

Whether it’s next year or next weekend, The Nutcracker is a show that brings holiday spirit, passion, and a beautiful story into one, showcasing the dancers’ magical glory, all while on pointe.