Right where she wants to be

Atlanta Ballet’s 83rd season will again include the classic production “The Nutcracker.” The Company’s 53rd production of this holiday favorite will show Dec. 7-26 at the Fox Theatre with discounted tickets offered to students. If Georgia State students decide to attend, they will see a fellow Georgia State student Jacqueline Nash dancing across the stage during this production.

Charlie Mccullers | Submitted Photo
Dancers Christian Clark and Rachel Van Buskirk in Atlanta Ballet’s Nutcracker.

Nash, or Jackie to those who know her, is a sophomore majoring in Business and Marketing. Dancing since age three, she said she didn’t want to do anything else.

“My mom signed me up for a little pre-ballet movement class,” Nash said. “I remember in kindergarten we had to do, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and I was like, ‘A ballerina!’ So I think even back then I knew what I wanted to do.”

Nash has been a company artist with Atlanta Ballet for two seasons. Prior to becoming an official company artist, she went through a training process that started her at the fellowship level. This level is a period of preparation that gave her time to get to know everyone and the lifestyle of dancing for Atlanta Ballet. After some time, she moved up to the apprenticeship level, where she was a part of the company but continued training for a two-year period.

Charlie Mccullers | Submitted Photo
The snow scene in Act 1 of the Nutcracker welcomes Clara and her prince with dancing snowflakes.

“Right now this is where I want to be,” Nash said. “We’re doing some great new stuff and some of the classics, so I think it’s a really good mix.”

In “The Nutcracker,” Nash plays Maria, who is the main little girl. She is also a snowflake, a rose and is in a duet where her role is called ‘Spanish.’

Nash said she’s done ‘The Nutcracker’ every year during her four years she’s been with the company. She said thechoreography for this show pretty much stays the same each year, while little details will be tweaked.

“We’re adding a lot of new production elements—a lot of allusions and magic tricks,” she said.

In preparing for this production, Nash has been rehearsing since September. She said rehearsals are up to six hours a day.

“[In the morning] you come in [for] classical ballet warm-up,” she said. “You start at the bar and you do all your exercises. Then you have three hours in the morning of rehearsal… lunch, then three more hours [of rehearsal]. Then it’s time to go to school.”

They usually rehearse for multiple shows at one time. Of their six shows this season, rehearsals could consist of anything from “Dracula” to “Carmina Burana,” which are both scheduled for later in the season.

“We’ve been learning all the stuff for the rest of the year,” she said. “Right now we’re focusing on ‘Nutcracker’ … so that’s what we’re doing this week.”

Charlie Mccullers | Submitted Photo
Ballet dancers in The Nutcracker.

When reflecting on her past shows, Nash said she’s done newer contemporary productions where she has danced to Johnny Cash music and wore cowboy boots as well as performed the classic “Sleeping Beauty.”

Some versions of the “The Nutcracker” are put on entirely by children. Though this production is performed by adults, Nash said children are a really important part of the show. Their involvement allows children who come see the show to be all the more receptive.

“Kids come see the show and they look and see the kids on stage,” Nash said. “I think it’s just something different than anything else we do in the season.”