Tamako Miyazaki, now in her 10th season with The Washington Ballet, shares her Nutcracker journey and some favorite memories.

My Nutcracker Journey with The Washington Ballet

Tamako as Miss Liberty. Photo by xmbphotography

The Nutcracker is the one ballet we dance every year. We perform around 38 shows every year at the beautiful Warner Theater, in downtown DC. In my first Nutcracker with The Washington Ballet, I was with the studio company. At that time, there was not a trainee program so I performed literally EVERY SINGLE SHOW of snow corps, flower corps, butterfly, cardinal corps, and some times I danced Miss Liberty. I cannot forget the feeling of accomplishment after finishing 38 shows at the end of the year! When I was in the studio company, I was desperate to dance whatever they cast me in. Even though I was younger, my body was in physical pain and mentally tired. Honestly, dancing four or five roles every single show is not easy, but you have to keep smiling on stage and can not show fatigue. For the audience, it must always be fresh when you go to the theater. You might be revisiting the performance, but as an audience, you do not want to get tired of it. I pushed myself thinking about broadway actors because they perform every day, the whole year.

Once I became a company member, not only did I get some new roles, but casting also changed. I did not need to perform in the corps de ballet every show; I got to focus on more soloist roles, which was very exciting. Now that I am older and just had a baby daughter, I need to pace myself during 38 shows. That is why it is very nice to have the occasional show off, and not perform for one night, to maintain your body.

Although I do not dance corps ballet anymore, I still dance Miss Liberty. I have danced this role for 10 years and I still enjoy it. My newest role was “Big Family Mother” in the first act. I had never been cast as a parent, but last year during Nutcracker I was pregnant and was in the party scene as a parent for the first time. I have performed Nutcracker with The Washington Ballet for 10 years, but I discovered new things after dancing in the party scene. There were so many details that I did not know and so many props that you need to handle on stage.

Tamako (and baby Irie!) in the party scene

My favorite role is of course the Sugar Plum Fairy. I always dreamed of dancing this role. When I finally got to perform as the Sugar Plum Fairy, I had more motivation to dance all the other roles as well.

This year, we can’t perform The Nutcracker at the theater. I will miss the fun times that we have there every year. I don’t remember the last time not performing The Nutcracker in December! I will miss the dressing room with my favorite people. We spent time every day in the dressing room, so we usually decorate the room to have holiday vibes.

I am curious, yet optimistic, about how this year will feel without performing The Nutcracker!

-Tamako Miyazaki