Photo Credit: Phil Wayes

Friday, November 27, 2009

Watching Dance: Houston Ballet's 'Nutcracker'

It’s Nutcracker season, people! Wheeee (don’t give me that look. I love The Nutcracker). I recently cruised over to Houston Ballet and caught up with dancers Elise Judson and Peter Franc, who will be dancing the respective roles of Sugar Plum Fairy and the Prince. Let’s hear what they had to say: So you're both premiering, I understand?

Both: Yes.

NFUL: Ms. Judson as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Mr. Franc as the Prince, is that right?

Peter Franc: Yes.

NFUL: Wonderful. So, you've both been with Houston Ballet for a few seasons?

Elise Judson: Yes, this is my third season.

Peter Franc: This is my fifth season.

NFUL: What Nutcracker roles have you performed in the past?

Elise Judson: I've done some corps work in the past--the Flowers and Snowflakes-- and various roles in the party scene, including Clara. This will be the first year that I've done Sugar Plum Fairy.

Peter Franc: I’ve done a number of different fathers in the party scene, I’ve done the Nutcracker in the battle scene; plus Arabian Chinese, and Merlitone. A lot of acting stuff.

NFUL: I have to ask this, because it seems like this role exists in every production of The Nutcracker… have you ever played the drunk guy in the party scene?

Peter Franc: Yes.

NFUL: Awesome.

Peter Franc: I’ve played the drunk grandfather, and most of the parents get drunk as well. So yes, many times.

NFUL: So what are your favorite roles in other ballets? Mr. Franc, I know you love Le Corsaire; and Miss Judson, you enjoyed Romeo and Juliet and Le Petite Mort. Can you tell me a bit about those as well?

Elise Judson: I’ve never actually performed those ballets. Those are just two of my favorites that I’ve watched. But there are many roles in both that I would like to perform! Some of my favorite roles that I've done here at Houston Ballet have been Swan Lake­-- the Neapolitan Princess that I got to perform in June. And that's probably one of my favorites so far in my career.

NFUL: Great! So, you're from California. Can you tell me a little about your background-- where you trained, where you danced before you came here?

Elise Judson: Yeah! I grew up in Sacramento, California and did some dancing with my studio there-- the Dean Dance Center--as well as with the Sacramento Ballet. I started dancing when I was five, so it's 15 years that I've been dancing. Four summer intensives here at the Academy, the Houston Ballet Ben Stevenson Academy, before I joined HB II and then the company.

NFUL: Wonderful! And what about you, Mr. Franc? Did you dance out in Pennsylvania?

Peter Franc: No, actually, I started dancing when I was living out in Atlanta. I started training at Metropolitan Ballet Theater.

NFUL: I've heard of them!

Peter Franc: Yeah, a girl in the Academy here is actually from that same school. It's a great school, and I started coming here for the summer programs when I was 15. I came to the Academy after I graduated high school, then I got into the company.

NFUL: So is this the first company you’ve danced with after training?

Both: Yes.

NFUL: Can you guys tell me about the Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 5th?

Elise Judson: Yes! It’s from 11am to 1pm and it’s free and open to the public. The tree lighting itself will be at noon, where I will dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy and light up the 25-foot tree in front of the Wortham Theater. Santa Claus will be there, as well as other characters from The Nutcracker.

NFUL: That’s so cool. I’ll be there, and I look forward to seeing you both dance.

The Nutcracker runs from tonight until December 27th, a grand total of 35 performances. Get your tickets and come on out!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you love the Nut Cracker as much as I do you might be fascinated to read the Q&A that Mom Culture ( did with Kaitlyn Galliland who danced as the Sugar Plum Fairy with the New York City Ballet...I loved how she answered the question of how to watch ballet and her comment on all the reality dance need to go to the archives under is worth it!!