Behind the Scenes Of 'The Nutcracker'

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Behind the Scenes Of 'The Nutcracker'

By Jane Sugiyama. CREATED Nov 26, 2013

One of Lansing’s favorite holiday traditions, "The Nutcracker” is a fun-filled performance for the entire family and is coming to Cobb Great Hall at the Wharton Center Thanksgiving weekend with performances on Friday, November 29th and Saturday, November 30th at 7:30PM, and Sunday, December 1st at 2:00PM.

Presented for the 33rd year by Children’s Ballet Theatre of Michigan, “The Nutcracker” combines the artistry of mid-Michigan’s best young dancers and the awe-inspiring direction of award-winning choreographer Gregory M. George. From sword fights and sugar plums to some of Tchaikovsky’s most beloved music, “The Nutcracker” is a holiday treat you’ll want to share with those you love.

We had a chance to speak with Tara Fedewa and Autumn Knapp who play Clara and Fritz in the show. They spoke about the preparation of putting on this classic and traditional holiday production.

Jane Sugiyama: How excited are you to be performing at the Wharton Center? 

Autumn Knapp: We have performed here many years and this will be my third year. It is really cool to know that Broadway performers have danced on the stage that we will also be performing on. 

Tara Fedewa: I am really excited! This is my fourth year doing the show and it cool for me to know that the 'So You Think You Can Dance' members also danced on the stage that I will be dancing on too. 

JS: How many years have you been practicing dance? Did you always know you wanted to be a ballet dancer? 

AK: Nine years. I wanted to do a lot of things when I was in elementary school, but once I started doing dance it became clear to me that this is what I loved and wanted to do. 

TF: I started dancing when I was in Kindergarten, so for about five years. I started doing ballet when I was eight-years-old. I use to play a lot of sports, but when I started CBT (Children's Ballet Theatre) I realized I didn't like sports as much and loved to dance. 

JS: What is the preparation process like for putting on a production of this caliber? 

AK: The show is physically demanding on your body because it is a lot of dance and cardio. You have to make sure you eat healthy, drink enough water and get enough sleep. It is important to prepare and plan ahead because our schedule gets intense during production week. 

TF: We practice a lot. It is very time consuming. We have dance five days a week in the evening, and then on the weekends a large chunk of our day is dedicated to more practice. But, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. It is similar to running a mile, at first it is really hard, but it gets easier the more you do it. 

JS: How did you prepare for your particular role?

AK: I try to get into the mindset of my character (Fritz). You have to be able to stand out from the rest, which can be a challenge. 

TF: I am supposed to be a little girl (Clara) in the show and act more childish. It is important for me to channel that, while also making sure my character stands out from the rest. 

JS: What is the dynamic like between the dancers of the show--leads and ensemble? 

AK: We all have separate roles, some people have lead parts and others have smaller parts, but we are all working together to put on the show. We don't let our character roles affect our friendships. 

TF: I would say that we are like a family. We may have our different parts and different practice schedules which separate us, but at the end of the day we are a family. 

JS: What is your favorite moment in the show? 

AK: I really like the show as a whole and seeing it come together. But, I would have to say that 'Snow' is my favorite because everything is white and magical. It is such a pretty dance. 

TF: I love everything too, but I think that 'Party Scene' is my favorite because it is upbeat. It is a tiring routine, but so much fun at the same time. 

Tickets are on sale at or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.