The Nutcracker…A Day in the life of a sugar plum fairy

This beloved holiday tradition is the story of a girl who dreams of a Nutcracker prince and a fierce battle against a Mouse King with seven heads.  After winning the battle, the Nutcracker prince takes her away to a world of dancing sugar plum fairies.

Countless hours in front of the mirror to perfect every, position and routine lead up to the performance day of a classic story and Butler University holiday tradition.

Lindsay Moncrieff, a senior dance-arts administration major and one of this year’s sugar plums in “The Nutcracker” tries to keep her performance day as sweet as the part she plays on stage.

Moncrieff said that the night before she performs is not always filled with dreams of dancing coffee, hot chocolate and a nutcracker prince, no matter how rested she wants to be.

“It is sometimes difficult to sleep with all of the excitement and adrenaline building up,” Moncrieff said.

After trying to rest as much as possible, Moncrieff makes sure to arrive at Clowes Memorial Hall about two hours prior to the performance to begin warming up and to get a head start on hair and make-up.

Once behind the curtain, she joins the other members of the Butler Ballet on stage for a warm-up class taught by one of the professors.

Moncrieff is one of 110 dance students performing this year.

“It’s like a community,” Moncrieff said.

After warming up, it is time to get ready.  When she is prepping for the performance Moncrieff said she is surrounded by her good friends and listening to fun music, trying not to think about the performance.

“We have plenty of time to get nervous,” Moncrieff said.

In her quiet moments of rehearsing alone, Moncrieff listens to Ingrid Michaelson on Pandora because it is relaxing.

Watching her classmates from the wings of the stage, Moncrieff and her dance partner keep each other focused before they go on.

“My dance partner is one of my best friends, so we have a special little ritual to shake off the nerves before we go on stage,” Moncrieff said.

As soon as she starts dancing, Moncrieff said the nerves go away.

“It is a dream,” Moncrieff said.  “[We] are taking a part in someone else’s dream.”

When the dream ends and the curtain closes, Moncrieff often heads to a local late night favorite, The Northside Social, with her parents for some good old fashioned macaroni and cheese.

The Nutcracker is not just a favorite holiday tradition for the Butler community, the E.T.A. Hoffmann piece holds a special place in Moncrieff’s heart.

“I don’t know what I would do if I weren’t performing in it,” Moncrieff said.  “It’s a part of me.”

But at the end of the show, it’s not the sugar plums or the growing Christmas tree that warm this dancer’s heart.

“I love the response of the audience,” Moncrieff said.  “If we get a standing ovation, it feels really good, because we’ve all worked so hard for that. It’s totally worth it.”

What would you tell someone who has never seen The Nutcracker?

“Follow the story, enjoy the musical score by Tchaikovsky played live.  The score is magic in itself, and I hope you are touched by the magic.”           – Michelle Jarvis, professor of dance

“It truly is a magical experience.  It definitely puts me in the holiday spirit and gives me a great feeling all over.”
– Larry Attaway, dance department chair and  director of the Jordan Academy of Dance

 “It is a charming, happy and easily understandable story to one of the greatest scores by Tchaikovsky performed by a live orchestra; it boasts outstanding dancing, bright costumes and handsome scenery. No previous experience or knowledge of ballet is required.”
– Stephan Laurent-Faesi, professor of dance

Did you know?

  • “The Nutcracker” has made an annual appearance at Butler University since 1982.
  • Before Nov. 12, the student dancers logged 120 hours of pre-dress rehearsal.
  • Collectively, over 130 performers come together to make The Nutcracker happen: 110 dance students and 20 children from the community.
  • “The Nutcracker” first premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892, and it was not well-received by the audience, because it took too long for the Sugar Plum fairy to appear on stage.


Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 2 and 3 at 8 p.m.
Dec. 3 and 4 at 2 p.m.



$28.50, $21.50 adults; $23, $17 child/student/senior; $20, $14 groups of 15 or more (+ $2.00 renovation fee per ticket)


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