Park City Resident repeats role as Clara
November 26, 2010
Parkite Madison Young has always wanted to be in Willam F. Christensen’s "The Nutcracker."
She can still remember what it was like when she saw her first performance of the Ballet West holiday tradition at the Capitol Theatre. She especially liked the opening party scene that featured the rivary between siblings Fritz and Clara Stahlbaum.
"I said to myself, ‘One day I’m going to be Clara,’" the 12-year-old dancer said during an interview with The Park Record. "And what do you know, a few years later, my dream came true. This is my fifth year in ‘The Nutcracker’ and my second year as Clara."
Clara, as story goes, receives a nutcracker from her godfather and toymaker Herr Drosselmeyer during a party Christmas Eve. The nutcracker prince then takes Clara on a magical trip to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Young also has her own ideas about Clara’s character.
"She’s suppose to be this kind of girl who wants everything in the world," said Young, who is a student at Weilenmann School of Discovery, a charter school in Park City. "She’s sweet, but also kind of rude.I think she’s an angel but also kind of a devil."
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Young came up with those attributes while working with "The Nutcracker" ballet mistress Cati Snarr.
"Since there are four Claras in the different casts, Ms. Snarr told us to get a notebook and jot down who we all think Clara is," Young said. "She said once we got those ideas, we needed to practice in the mirror and to think about being a girl in that time of when ‘The Nutcracker’ takes place."
Snarr also encourages the girls to reflect on how they would feel if their favorite toy was broken by their older brother.
"She asked us, ‘How would you cry?’ ‘How would you act?’" Young said. "She kept asking us if we would stand there scared and wide-eyed, or if we would glare at Fritz or just ignore him."
Although this is Young’s second year as Clara, she said it’s not any easier to get into the character.
"I remember things," she said. "But last year I was Clara and also a party girl. So things changed a bit. It’s still kind of hard and I still get a lot of corrections."
But Young knows the corrections are intended to make her a better dancer.
"The first practice is a little nerve wracking," she said. "But once you get the hang of it it’s really fun."
Young also likes the fact that Clara appears in nearly every scene of the ballet.
"It’s cool, but kind of scary because you’re on the stage pretty much the whole time and you have to remember a lot of stuff," she said.
However, Young, whose favorite ballet is "Swan Lake," said she loves the feeling of being on stage.
"Some people get queasy when they look in the audience," she said. "Instead of feelng queasy, I feel excited. I love being on stage. I’ve had a lot of practice at it, and every year I get less and less nervous."
Young also likes being in the scenes with the Ballet West dancers because she likes to watch them and rehearse with them.
"It’s really fun to get to practice with them," said Young who started dancing at the Wasatch Dance Center in Heber before enrolling into the Ballet West Academy. "They’re so interesting to watch."
Young placed in the Top 12 of the pre-competetive age division during the 2010 Youth American Grand Prix in San Francisco, Calif., and has aspirations of becoming a professional dancer.
"Someday I would like to dance the roles of the Sugar Plum Fairy or the Snow Queen,’ she said. "I also like the ‘Waltz of the Flowers.’ They are really good parts in the ballet."
While Young finds it a rewarding challenge to dance the role of Clara, her parents, Connie and Steve Young, and step-father, Joel Riet, face another challenge making sure Young makes it to rehearsals in Salt Lake City from Park City.
"It is a challenge," Steve Young said. "It’s a team deal between Connie and her husband, Joel, and myself.
"But really, Madison drives us because she is so committed. And we don’t mind supporting our child if she’s as committed as Madison is."
Some days the three drivers find themselves rolling up and down Parley’s Canyon two or three times a day, Steve Young said.
"It’s challenging. There’s no question. And it’s a huge commitment but we all make sacrificies. If Madison wasn’t as committed and driven as she was, it would be difficult. But it’s easy when you see it. And we feel like giving each other high fives at the drop offs."
And what does the dancer think about when she’s being chauffered here and there?
"Whenever I’m in the car I just think about what I’m going to be doing in dance class," she said. "Sometimes it’s a little boring. But most of the time I don’t really mind."
Ballet West will present Willam F. Christensen’s "The Nutcracker" Dec. 4 through Dec. 31, in the Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South, in Salt Lake City. Evening curtain is 7 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturdays. There will also be a special noon matinee on Friday, Dec. 24. Tickets range from $18-$74 and are available by callng 801-355-ARTS or 888-451-ARTS. Tickets can also be purchased by visiting http://www.arttix.org.