Meet the Claras of Boston

clara boston nutcracker

Nayeli Cintrón plays Clarice in Tony Williams Dance Center’s Urban Nutcracker. / Photo provided

—Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Delia Wada-Gill / “Clara”

Why should people come see your version of The Nutcracker?

Ever since I was younger, I’ve enjoyed The Nutcracker many, many times every year. I think that people should come see Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker because it’s an absolutely wonderful production. When you watch this production, you immediately feel the magic of The Nutcracker radiating off the stage, instantly making an impression in every single audience member’s mind. The sets, the costumes, the dancers, and the live orchestra all make this magic true and real and so amazing that it just makes you want to start dancing. The company dancers share so much energy when they dance, and they inspire the audience with their perfect footwork, beautiful port de bras, and their magical smiles. Every detail on stage is rehearsed multiple times, every costume is handcrafted with gems and stones carefully sewn on to fit each dancer perfectly, and every set is stunningly hand-painted and intricate. This is the magic anyone would see and be moved by when watching the Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker—the same dynamic magic that I experienced when watching this production as a young girl.

Describe your pre-show routine for us.

I’ve developed a quick pre-show routine that helps me warm up and knead out some of my pre-show jitters. I start off my warmup with a modified barre routine and some dynamic stretching. I test my flexibility conditions, my stability slowly to see what kind of warmups I should focus on. If I feel that my muscles are tense and too tight, I’ll move into more static stretching where I exercise my splits and stretch my back and neck to gain mobility there. After warming up, I like to run the entire show through my mind, visualizing stage cues, practicing some of my footsteps, while always practicing my port de bras full out for each of my dances. If you practice your port de bras full out, it actually allows you to start embodying the essence of the character more. You practice how she would place her neck over her shoulder, how she would use her arms to gesture to her party guests vs. the Sugar Plum Fairy. The use of arms and neck are truly essential for any character’s expressive development.

Once I’m done having my private preparation time, I’m often shuffled off to the hair and makeup room, where the makeup artists prepare me for the stage. They’re so fun, and I love laughing and talking to them. Afterwards, I finally get to join my friends backstage. This is my absolute favorite part—I always love to interact and talk with the party crew. The excitement backstage is a wonderfully contagious environment to get pumped in.

What do you like to do around Boston outside of dancing?

I often like to go to other theaters and experience other shows playing at the Paramount and in the Opera House. Recently, I got to watch Philip Glass’s opera by the Boston Lyric Opera and Benedict Cumberbatch play Hamlet (WOAH!). I love going to the Boston Common. In all seasons, it’s so beautiful and holds a different type of magic. Between and after ballet classes, my friends and I like to explore the South End near Boston Ballet, sometimes getting tasty sandwiches together and sometimes even taking a walk on Newbury Street during particularly long rehearsal breaks. But my favorite thing to do—even though it’s a little childish—is to go to this really fun playground right by the studio. Here, we go to just talk and play on all the structures until we use up our energy running and laughing together.

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—Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker
Cecilia Zevallos / “Clara”

Why should people come see your version of The Nutcracker?

Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker is just so enjoyable to watch. I can never get tired of it. The way Mr. Mateo’s choreography fits into the music makes so much sense, and everyone who’s involved in our production becomes part of a community that supports each other and works to give the audience a high-spirited, enthusiastic performance.

Describe your pre-show routine for us.

The most important thing I do before every show is spend a few minutes visualizing in my head how I’m going to perform. Also, I can never go on stage without eating a few gummy bears. It’s silly, but I’ve been doing it for years, and I believe it brings me good luck. And lastly, when I’m in the wings right before the curtain goes up, I balance in arabesque en pointe on the last note of the overture—a tradition for Claras.

What do you like to do around Boston outside of dancing?

Outside of ballet, I focus on classical piano and violin. I also enjoy cooking and long bike rides with my sister.

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—Tony Williams Dance Center’s Urban Nutcracker
Nayeli Cintrón / “Clarice”

Why should people come see your version of The Nutcracker?

I think people should come see our version of The Nutcracker because it’s very unique, it has a lot of diversity, and has a variety of different dancers, including ballet, tap, hip-hop, Spanish, and many more surprises.Personally, I consider it the best version and the most fun to watch.

Describe your pre-show routine for us.

My pre-show routine starts off with a good night’s sleep. The next day, I try to relax by watching my favorite TV show. I like to eat healthy things like fruits and vegetables. I also make sure to drink plenty of water and go over my steps in my head.

What do you like to do around Boston outside of dancing?

Something I like to do around Boston outside of dance is taking both vocal and piano lessons at Sociedad Latina. I also enjoy participating in cultural parades and festivals.

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The Slutcracker
Esmeralda Sosa / “Clara”

Why should people come see your version of The Nutcracker?

The Slutcracker is more than just a burlesque parody of The Nutcracker. There’s ballet, hoops, flamenco, belly dancing, and a huge phallic-shaped candy cane. The energy of our audience is the best. I’ve never had so much fun performing. So come, sit back, have some beer and popcorn, and enjoy the show!

Describe your pre-show routine for us.

My main focus is on staying relaxed as much as possible before the shows. I go to the theater early to take my time getting ready. First, I check and pre-set my costumes and pasties. Then, I go on stage to warm up, go over some choreography, and start getting into my character. The last part of my routine is doing my hair, makeup, and, of course, getting covered in glitter.

What do you like to do around Boston outside of dancing?

One of my new favorite things to do this year is to go bike riding around Cambridge and along the Charles. I get to exercise, get some fresh air, and enjoy the beautiful views of the city while I try not to kill myself or other people around me.

Interviews have been edited and condensed. 

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Check out the productions for yourself:

Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker, $35+, through December 31 at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St., Boston, bostonballet.org.

Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker, $20+, through December 6 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont St., Boston, December 11-20 at the Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Rd., Dorchester, ballettheatre.org.

Urban Nutcracker, $25+, December 11-27, Back Bay Events Center, 180 Berkeley St., Boston, urbannutcracker.com.

The Slutcracker, $27, December 4-31, Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, theslutcracker.com.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/2015/12/02/clara-boston-nutcracker/