The Nutcracker

Lisa Tant on one of her most wacky job experiences

As I’ve blogged before – I love my job because no two days are ever the same – but my experience on December 30 qualifies as one of the most exhilarating (and bizarre) to date. I performed on stage with The National Ballet of Canada as a Cannon Doll in The Nutcracker. Check out the costume – it’s hardly couture!

Back in November, I received an email from Catherine at the ballet asking if I would be interested in being one of the Toronto personalities who would perform for 10 minutes as a Cannon Doll – oh, and please bring a partner. My first thought was are-you-kidding-me?? Followed instantly by OF COURSE!! How much fun is that?! I asked Elio Iannacci, FLARE’s Executive Editor, if he would join me. Ok, I basically told him he was coming! Elio is always up for a good time – and a challenge – so, luckily for me, he agreed.

As we changed into our costumes, we laughed ourselves silly at how ridiculous we looked. Elio said it was the first time he’d worn elastic waist trousers. Pom poms and a yarn wig were new to me. Once we finally stopped giggling, it was time to head downstairs to the stage.

I wish I could have snapped shots backstage – the scene was spectacular. We checked out the rows of costumes (cat heads fitted with helmets and tiny mouse bodies with giant ears). We watched a tiny ballerina shimmer into a 50 pound dancing bear costume,complete with red satin pointe shoes. The energy among the waiting performers – many from the National Ballet School – was thrilling. We watched two teen-aged dancers fit into their horse costume (one in front, one in back) and then marveled as the horse kicked up and danced in perfect time on stage.

Our preparation was watching a quick video and then one fast rehearsal. As soon as I ran on stage behind Dylan, the king who shoots the cannon, I forgot everything. I was to be the energetic doll while Elio was told to act timid. Fortunately, I couldn’t see the audience – the stage lights made the theatre look black – so Elio and I flailed and jumped up and shrieked nervously at each other. We laughed the whole time, not worrying about being humiliated but enjoying every minute of this fantastic experience. It seemed to last forever – and we were exhausted when our brief segment was over.

It was a moment I’ll never forget and one of my most cherished of 2009. I’m looking forward to another year of great – fabulous and bizarre! – experiences in 2010.

I’ll be back again next week. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter at