PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre opened “The Nutcracker” Friday night – the first of 24 performances at the Benedum Center.
There are 30 professional dancers, plus 130 students as young as 7 years old in the show.
KDKA-TV’s Kristine Sorensen got an exclusive look backstage at how the dancers and many other people prepare and put the show on, and there’s a whole other show going on backstage.
Two hours before the show begins ,the stage is filled with dancers taking ballet class, warming up their body and focusing their mind.
Then, it’s into the dressing room where the dancers put their hair in a tight bun. Short hair? No problem, there are fake buns. Then, the hair pieces, specially designed with mesh fabric so all the bobby pins have something to hold onto.
“While you’re dancing, it’s the most frustrating thing when it’s a little bit loose, so you learn really fast that you need to make it secure,” said Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer Diana Yohe.
Yohe is dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy lead for the first time, saying she’s very excited and a little bit nervous.
After the dancers’ hair is tightly pinned back, they apply their own make-up. And lots of it so you can see their features all the way from the last row, drawing what’s called “wings” around the eyes.
Costumes are carted backstage, more than 200, all handmade. The dozens of kids have their own dressing room where parent volunteers help them zip up.
The children provide a lot of laughter, backstage and on.
“I like in the end when we shake our butts and hearing the audience laugh,” said 9-year-old Grace Goslin.
There are a lot of different scenes in “The Nutcracker,” and each one has a different backdrop. So it starts with a street scene, then that lifts, and it comes to a party scene backdrop. Then behind that, we’ll go to the Land of Enchantment, and in between, way up high, is the snow scene, which comes flying down.
Once the curtain rises, the audience enjoys the beauty on stage, but backstage, the dancers have to hurry, exiting in Victorian party costumes and quickly changing into snowflake tutus and pointe shoes. In minutes, they’re back on, snow falling as they fly and twirl like snowflakes.
Backstage is a glimpse that few get to see, but it is just as amazing as the view from the audience.
“The Nutcracker” runs through December 27th at the Benedum Center.