“The Nutcracker”: Behind the Scenes of the 5C Ballet Club’s Holiday Spectacular


Ella Young ’24

Staff Writer


Nov. 19 saw the 5C Ballet Club’s second annual production of The Nutcracker. The classic holiday ballet is a tradition among many ballet companies, and the club sought to continue this tradition here at the Claremont Colleges. 

This year’s production was lovely, and the amount of work that students put in was apparent in their performance. The show featured nine excerpts from The Nutcracker, with a combination of solo and group performances and choreography by 5C students. Every performance shone in its own way

All performances were fabulous, but some personal highlights were “The Flowers,” choreographed by club president and show director Meadow Jones ’24, and “The Sugar Plum Fairy” solo, performed by Audrey Che ’27. The pieces showed a strong sense of musicality in both their choreography and performance that I found both enjoyable and impressive. 

A key value at the core of the production is that of inclusivity. Jones and the rest of the club seek to move away from the traditional rigidity of the ballet world and instead move toward a more inclusive and kind environment.

To ensure this inclusivity, the club doesn’t hold auditions and consequently the production showcased a wide variety of experience levels, from ballet beginners to advanced dancers. “That avoids the competition and the strict aspect so that anyone who wants to join the production can sign up,” Jones said. 

In addition to the open nature of the club and the production, they also chose to move away from the offensive caricatures that are featured in traditional Nutcracker productions. “For this reason, we did not include ‘Chinese’ in tonight’s show, and ‘Arabian’ avoids racialized stereotypes,” the program read. “We want The Nutcracker to be an inclusive tradition everyone can celebrate.”  

This inclusivity also percolated into the costumes, makeup, and choreography. Students were not required to wear buns for the performances and stage makeup was not forced upon members. This variety read well during the production. The diverse hair and makeup, combined with the matching costumes, allowed the production to be cohesive while also celebrating the dancers’ individuality. 

Another key aspect of the show was the student choreography. Much like how dancing in the production requires no audition, choreography roles are also open to all interested club members. 

Oftentimes, choreographers that sign up have previous ballet experience under their belts. “It’s such a fun opportunity because a lot of dancers who did ballet at home don’t usually get the opportunity to choreograph big formal productions,” Jones said.

Although the choreographers are afforded much creative liberty with their pieces, there is one thing that the club discourages: soloists. “A lot of times, ballet pieces will have one soloist and a bunch of backup dancers,” Jones said. “That can incite a lot of competition and power dynamics.” 

Solos are permitted, however, when there is a sole dancer on the stage. This was reflected by three excellent solos by Sarah Hansen ’27, Audrey Che ’27, and Nico Riley CMC ’27, who performed Clara, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Spanish solos, respectively. 

I particularly appreciated the way the performances engaged with the audience through not only the technically impressive choreography, but also the strong performance skills of facial expression and musicality. The larger group numbers were also stellar, featuring synchronized choreography that excellently demonstrated the skills of the dancers.

Through this production, the club brought the holiday classic to Claremont in a way that both honors the ballet’s revered tradition and refreshes the less savory aspects of the production to be more inclusive. It was a joy to watch, and I look forward to all future productions put on by the 5C Ballet Club.

If you are interested in getting involved, the club offers weekly drop-in ballet classes, taught by club members. All experience levels are welcome. Those interested can reach out to claremontballetcompany@gmail.com and/or sign up as a member of the club on Engage.


Image Source: Meadow Jones ’24

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