Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

The Nutcracker

Don’t get what I’m about to write wrong. I love culture. I pledge to KQED (or, well, my wife does for the household), I used to drive a Volvo, and my household has got tons (literally tons, as the last moving company that we hired will tell you) of books.

I also think it’s great that my daughter loves to dance, though Angelina (the mouse) and Zoe (the Sesame Street character) are more her models than Nijinski (which, now that I put it that way, I realize is perfectly fine). Still, at her age, a fascination with ballet is entirely appropriate, and I justify the classes to myself on the same grounds that all parents who enroll their girls in ballet but want them to become surgeons use: it’ll build grace and elegance, and all our friends are doing it, too.

But I think I’m about to get into something that’s over my head. As the winter season begins, the notion of holiday theatricals begin to float through the air. None I suspect, is as ambitious, or can ask so much of parents, as “The Nutcracker.”

My daughter is an angel in it. And of course, all my daughter’s friends are in it, so she can’t not be part of it.

Light is just beginning to dawn on the reality that this is going to be a lot of work.

The performance is in December. We’re already getting pieces of a rehearsal schedule that looks like the SAS training program at Hereford, and it’s just the end of September. In addition to whatever commitments we’ve fallen into to take her to extra rehearsals, there’s the backstage stuff, the need to help sell tickets, etc., etc.: a replay of all the stuff you had to do for high school plays, except you no longer can fob some the work off on your parents.

Last night we had to think up the names and addresses of ten people who might want to buy tickets. Of course, part of me chafed (do I know ten people?), but I also don’t want the theatre to be empty. Friendster and viral marketing people have no clue compared to those who put on ballets featuring elementary school-age children.

But since I love my daughter, and want her to be able to look back fondly on the time when she was an angel in a holiday production of one of the most famous ballets of all time (rather than, say, think about how all her friends got to be in it while she had to watch– a memory that bubbles up right before she slashes my tires on the way to her weekly therapy), I have no choice, I must obey. Now I know why it’s called “the nutcracker.”

Anybody interested in tickets?


  1. Me, me, me! It’s already on my calendar!

  2. I was a mouse in the Nutcracker when I was about 12 years old. It is one of my fondest memories. The hour drive to rehearsals is not one of my mom’s favorites!

    Your daughter will thank you some day.

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