A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, 27-year-old Anastacia Holden has been dancing ballet for 20 years. She joined the Joffrey in 2005, following two seasons as an Arpino Apprentice. In addition to the roles of Clara and Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, she has also performed at the Joffrey as the Spring Fairy in Cinderella, Bianca in Othello, and many other classic and contemporary pieces.
This will be your eighth year as Clara. What do you do to keep your performance fresh year after year and during the run?
ANASTACIA HOLDEN: It definitely helps for me to think that, for some people in the audience, this is their first time. And so I have to approach it as if it’s new for me so that it’s a special experience for them. It also keeps you on your toes working with the kids, because they’re not necessarily going to do the same thing every time. You have to be watchful, and you have to be mindful, so if they’re doing something different, you can adjust what you’re doing. That keeps it fresh for sure.
Is there a specific moment in the show that you always look forward to performing?
AC: The transformation after the party scene when Clara comes back downstairs to find her nutcracker doll. The mice start to come in, and Drosselmeyer scares them away. And then he starts to make the house disappear, and it’s like the magic starts to happen. He’s moving the scenery off, he’s lifting the chandelier out of the way, the tree starts to grow. As Clara, you’re watching all this happen in wonder, and it’s really a magical experience to be performing that—and I’m sure for the audience as well, to see that scene change happen.
How does the production of the show fit in with your personal holiday traditions?
AC: I can’t imagine being at the Joffrey and not doing the Nutcracker. My family still comes, but not to see me perform anymore, though, of course, it was really exciting the first few years I did it. It’s not the holiday season without the Nutcracker.