“I’ve done Nutcracker my whole life, as a student as a professional,” Pojanowski said. “It’s both a very interesting full circle and it’s very exciting to be able to choreograph for a ballet that I know so well, music that I know so well. After dancing so many different versions of it, to be able to create my own version is very exciting.”
Pojanowski first joined the TJC staff in January after spending more than a decade dancing in New York City. As such, she said she considers the George Balanchine version of “The Nutcracker” to be definitive, and as such used it as a point of inspiration for her first time directing the ballet.
“I am very influenced by Balanchine’s ‘Nutcracker.’ I danced that for so many years and I think it’s sort of the pinnacle, and there are so many versions out there,” she said.l “So for my version of ‘The Nutcracker,’ I like those sort of clean lines and lots of formations. I like to think that it is very clean and very kind of crisp and specific.”
This may be Pojanowski’s own take on the famous ballet, but she said it will still look and feel familiar.
All of a sudden it gets larger-than-life, and then from there it turns into what you expect from a ballet, just very straight, clean dancing. It goes from very theatrical to very pure, classical dance. Which is interesting because most classical ballets start out very theatrical and then transition, and ‘The Nutcracker’ is a very exaggerated version of that.”
“The Nutcracker” first premiered in Russia in 1892. It was choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov with a (now iconic) score by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It has endured for more than a century, in large part because of the way it engages the audience, Pojanowski said.
“It really gets your imagination going,” she said. “Kids love it. Adults love it. You’ve got these incredible sets with growing trees and mechanical clocks and this really amazing stuff going on from an engineering standpoint. Then we’ve got just a scrim and dancing, so you’ve got the technique of both (on display).”
From a dancer’s perspective, Pojanowski said “The Nutcracker” is unique in that it is one of the only ballets that feels inclusive rather than exclusive to dancers of all levels.
There is a role for a six-year-old, there is a role for a 65-year-old and for everyone in between and you make your way through.”
Pojanowski said she sees the story a little differently as well now that she is on the directorial side of the production.
“Until now, I never saw it quite as much as a coming-of-age story,” she said. “I saw the imagination and Christmas and this nutcracker turns into a prince, but I never saw it specifically as this young girl turning into an adult. I see this doll turning into a doll as a much more, what seems obvious now, a story about growing up.”
“The Nutcracker” will be performed tonight at 7:30 in Wise Auditorium on the TJC campus. Tickets will be available via phone by calling 903-510-2200, but only until 5 p.m. today. Ticket sales beyond that will be conducted only at the door, including for the 2 p.m. matinee performances Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for children age 12 and under, students and senior citizens.