12 Questions About The Nutcracker With Principal Dancer Heather Ogden
December 10, 2021
Heather Ogden and Christopher Gerty in The Nutcracker. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
Adventure awaits when the clock strikes 12 midnight in James Kudelka’s The Nutcracker, which returns live to the Four Seasons Centre this holiday season. In honour of this magical hour, we’ve asked Sugar Plum Fairy Heather Ogden to answer 12 fun questions about The Nutcracker!
For some children, The Nutcracker marks a first introduction to classical ballet. What was your first experience with it?
The first time I saw The Nutcracker was the Christmas I came to audition for the company – I was 17 and I was in awe of this version and the spectacle of it all.
How many different versions of The Nutcracker have you performed since you started dancing?
Just James Kudelka’s version and after now seeing other versions I feel like we have the best one around!
Which roles have you performed in this production?
I’ve performed Maiden Aunt 1, Snowflakes, the Snow Queen, Chocolate, Coffee, Sheep, Pink Flowers, Yellow Flowers and the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Heather Ogden as the Snow Queen with former dancer Jean-Sébastien Colau and Guillaume Côté as Icicles in The Nutcracker, 2002. Photo by Cylla Tiedemann
Is there a role that you haven’t had a chance to perform but would like to?
I am very happy dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy but I do think the Bee role looks fun!
There are so many props and moving parts in this production. Have you ever had a mishap?
When I was an Apprentice I ran into the barn which is stored backstage during the Snow Scene. I exited the stage and ran head first into it and had to be monitored for a concussion! I was fine :)
Do you have a favourite piece of music from Tchaikovsky’s score?
I love the music from the Snow Scene; it’s so beautiful and grand and it adds to the magic of the scene. I also enjoy the Waltz of the Flowers as it comes right before my Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux entrance and it gets me into the mood to spread some joy!
The National Ballet can present over 25 performances of The Nutcracker each season. That’s a lot of shows! What gets you through?
It is certainly a busy time of year both in life and the theatre but I feel lucky to be a part of people’s holiday traditions in our city!
Last season, the company was unable to perform The Nutcracker live. What did you miss most about the production?
I missed the tradition of dancing The Nutcracker. For me it is synonymous with the Christmas holidays. I really missed performing, being around my colleagues and sharing that time together.
There’s no shortage of tasty treats onstage during The Nutcracker. If you could sample a snack from one of the offerings, which would it be?
I have been way too close to that plastic food! I will have to pass.
With so much to look at in this glorious production, it can be difficult to catch all the details. What’s one subtle moment we should watch for?
Keep an eye on Uncle Nikolai in Act I. He hands out presents from a sled to all the children but in a very sneaky way!
Heather Ogden in The Nutcracker. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
The Snow Queen or The Sugar Plum Fairy?
The Sugar Plum Fairy.
What’s your take: has Uncle Nikolai planned this adventure for Misha and Marie or is it all just a dream?
I think magical Uncle Nikolai has planned the adventure!
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