A Children’s Nutcracker


Collin Wynn, Contributing Writer

A Children’s Nutcracker

Imagine, if you will, being new to the whole performing scene: you have never been on stage before, you have never rehearsed for anything so rigorous or fatiguing as a ballet, and on top of that, you are a male student in a predominantly female area of performing arts. What could that possibly feel like? How difficult would it be to know that you must push your body to the limit in ways it has never been pushed before? To know that you must power through whatever challenges may come your way with the pressure of knowing that every single person on the cast is relying on you to perform with the utmost proficiency?

The Goffstown High School performing arts group, more well known as the Movement and Dance Company, has once again put on their hometown renowned annual performance of A Children’s Nutcracker. As always, it was a huge hit with the local community and offered three separate performances to attend. However, while it may seem to run gracefully from the audience’s perspective, many do not know what it is like to be in the performers’ shoes.

Upon being inquired as to their motive for joining dance, Nigel Okereke and Charlie Keith, two male members of the Movement and Dance Company, both had very different answers. Nigel, on one hand, joined because of an interest seen in him expressed by the dancing instructor Tina Philibotte. Charlie, on the other hand, joined because of his sister’s influence. She had been in previous performing arts shows, and he wanted to be a part of that with her. Both of the boys had roles in the same scenes throughout the show, including Snow, Spanish, Battle, and their favorite scene, Arabian, in which Charlie starred as the lead male role. He enjoyed having a lead role, and now has a new appreciation for  what that entails.

Preparations for a ballet, even in high school, are quite unique and demanding, not to mention full of stress, anxiety, and tension. The boys were both able to agree that getting ready for a show is something one would have to experience to be able to understand. However, both boys dealt with the practices with very different mindsets. Nigel believed it best to attempt to remain stress free, not worry, and just show up and do what needed to be done. “All I did was pretty much just come to rehearsal and do what I was asked to do, and that’s about it. The rehearsals were long and Philli was mad most of the time, but yea, they were just time consuming; they weren’t boring, but like, they were alright, they were pretty fun.” Charlie was constantly looking into every little thing, ensuring that he would always be prepared. “The rehearsals were hard but I kept a good heavyset mind to get things done and look at the end of the tunnel.” Both were able to perform very well with virtually no error, so clearly both methods of mindset proved functional. Looking back on the rehearsals, Nigel and Charlie agreed they were long and tiresome, but all together, they were fun, enjoyable, and provided a versatile amount of exercise.

When asked what made them feel nervous or what challenged them, they both had the same general answer. Charlie was more nervous about if something were to go wrong; pre-show anxiety. However, once out on stage, all of those feelings faded and he was truly living in the moment. Nigel, like most people would be, was simply somewhat nervous about performing in front of so many people and, like Charlie, he had some pre-show anxiety. “I just had that general feeling of nervousness, like that you get before a show. Just being in front of all of those people, like stage fright.”

In the end, Charlie and Nigel thought the whole experience was worth it in every aspect and very memorable. When asked if they could sum up what it was like to perform and their reaction to the whole process, they both fired back right away expressing how quickly the show went by while it was happening. After all of those long rehearsals and late nights, the fifty five minute shows seemed to truly fly by in their eyes. Looking back at the performance as a whole, both whole-heartedly agreed that it would be something that they would happily participate in again. Even with all of the difficulties and personal challenges it entailed, Nigel and Charlie felt it was an overall positive experience.