I began this journey of blogging about six months ago. It was springtime here in Virginia and the whole DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area was bursting with Cherry Blossoms. Because I was trying to stay aware of inspiring content around me, I was thinking hard about the influence of Cherry Blossom season to our area. (I even modeled my blog logo after cherry blossoms.) I intend to share more about the actual “season” this coming spring, but one of the local “events” that has been influenced, making it very appropriate for this time of year, is The Washington Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.
I remembered back to 2004 when I had the privilege of being in the audience to see the production of The Nutcracker that Christmas season. I know the year exactly because I was hugely pregnant with my second child. I remember the announcement prior to the show starting of how excited the company was to be “unveiling” their new, decidedly, Washington D.C. flavored performance including The Cherry Blossom Fairy in lieu of the traditional Sugarplum Fairy.
Because I always want to provide my readers with the most accurate information that I possibly can give, I decided to email The Washington Ballet to ask details of how those D.C.-centric changes came to fruition. My expectation was that I would either not get a response, or perhaps, if I was lucky, some intern or admin would shoot me back a quick reply. I was pleasantly surprised to actually receive an email back. The note that came to me had no information in it about the changes made to the production. Instead, the email requested that I contact Septime Webre, as he would be the one to know the answer to my questions. So I sent a new email to Mr. Webre asking him my questions. He responded with a request that we have a phone interview. Oh, and by the way, did I tell you that Mr. Webre was the Artistic Director and Choreographer of The Washington Ballet in 2004? Are you freaking kidding me?!?! I’m going to have a phone interview with the Artistic Director and Choreographer of The Washington Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker. NO. WAY!
I had not even launched www.jenniferthebeholder.com yet and I was going to be doing a huge interview. My first interview….ever. I was terrified. I began studying and preparing my @$$ off so that I would sound legit and basically not waste the gentleman’s time. It was amazing. He was warm and approachable and FACINATING.
In 2004, The Washington Ballet was experiencing a regime change. Mr. Septime Webre had taken over as the new Artistic Director for the ballet company. It was within this role that Mr. Webre decided to put a new and true Washington D.C. stamp on the staging and production. Mr. Webre studied history at George Mason University and has a real affinity for American history. He knew instantly that he wanted to incorporate our rich local history into the staging of his version of The Nutcracker.
Listening to him describe the thoughtful changes that he made, I learned that there are 100’s of little historic and D.C. focused “Easter Eggs” sprinkled throughout the production. Some of the obvious ones were the replacement of the Sugarplum Fairy with the Cherry Blossom Fairy, complete with a gorgeous backdrop of the Jefferson Memorial in full cherry splendor. The Nutcracker himself, is modeled after George Washington. The opening party scene is set in Georgetown. One of the children in the party scene is holding a Harriet Tubman doll. (OK, well, he told me that one.) The list goes on.
I joked with Mr. Webre (he made me feel that comfortable), that he should make a book to correspond with the production that aids the audience of where to search for all of the meaningful historic details that he has so carefully and beautifully added to make our local professional production of this cherished ballet so special. The performance is already so engaging, but can you imagine having a guidebook to help you see and understand all of the surprises that were put there for our enjoyment? A totally new and interactive experience. In my thank you note to Mr. Webre, I requested that when he did make such a book, to reserve a copy (preferably signed) for me. But make no mistake, the next time that I get to see The Washington Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker, I will be paying closer attention to see if I can spot the “Easter Eggs” myself. My hope is that you are inspired to do the very same.
Tickets for the show are currently on sale at: www.washingtonballet.org
As for Mr. Septime Webre, he has since moved on with his career and serves as Artistic Director at Halcyon House in Washington, D.C.. Be sure to check out www.halcyonhouse.org for more information about their amazing productions and programs.
2 Pic from washingtonballet.org, Photo: The Washington ballet by media4artists, Theo Kossenas
3 Gif from www.memecrunch.com
4 Pic from www.google.com
5 Pic from www.halcyonhouse.org
6 Pic from 2012 post by http://www.thearcdc.org/events/washington-ballet-nutcracker
7 Pic from https://ballethub.com/performance/the-nutcracker-at-warner-theatre-washington-district-of-columbia-performance-the-washington-ballet/ This pic was posted in 2013.
8 Pic from http://www.capitolmomma.com/the-washington-ballets-the-nutcracker-at-warner-theatre/ This pic was posted in 2016. Actual show dates are from November 25 – December 24, 2017.
9 Pic from www.halcyonhouse.org