In the depths of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, small herds of children passed racks of snowflake and flower costumes Wednesday night as they made their way to dressing rooms just before Kansas City Ballet’s final dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker.
"It’s the land of Nutcracker,"said Artistic Director Devon Carney, a little gleefully, as he ducked into the costume room. Logan Pachciarz was seated in a chair being fitted into his wig in preparation for his role as Drosselmeyer, Clara's godfather. After giving a few notes to Pachciarz, Carney walked out quickly to check in with another dancer.
"There’s just such a wonderful excitement about Nutcracker. You just can’t duplicate it and it’s what my holidays are all about — just that kind of joy, " said Carney.
"It’s exciting and thrilling and every day there’s this fabulous energy backstage. I just love it as the overture is playing, everybody is backstage with all their costumes on and the kids are all gathered around getting ready."
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From the quiet of her dressing room, Music Director Ramona Pansegrau reflected on the coming Nutcracker season. Pansegrau said seeing the youngest dancers always takes her back to her first Nutcracker.
"You see a little one who’s an angel carrying a candle and her big job is to raise her candle for two counts and put it down for two counts and she’s worked on it since August," Pansegrau said. "But when they put on the costume, and they’re onstage with the principal dancers they are just overcome with what they’re doing and to see that on their little faces takes you back to the simple pleasures and makes you think about your life."
Seeing how happy it makes the children to be part of the production, Pansegrau said, makes her grateful to be an artist and help make it happen.
As the dancers were called to the stage, Carney headed off to find a seat in the audience to watch.
"Everybody is just having a great time and making us a part of their family traditions. I am honored that we can be a part of that," he said.
Kansas City Ballet presents Todd Bolender’s 'The Nutcracker,' Dec. 6-24, 2014, at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo. 816-931-2232.