Ballet Lubbock is preparing for their annual production of The Nutcracker. The Front Row visited with Nicholas Dragga, executive director of Ballet Lubbock, and Yvonne Racz Key, artistic director, to talk about the show.
How is it that this production has become so ingrained into the fabric of our community?
Dragga: There’s a lot of answers to that. I don’t know if I’ll be able to describe everything about it. One, yes, we feel very fortunate that it has become that tradition. I’ll start with a story. A couple of years ago we kind of put up butcher paper outside the lobby and asked a question, like, “Why are you here?” And we were just kind of curious what would happen. One of my favorite responses was from a women and she said: “My mother took me, now I take my daughter.”
So it really has been that generational tradition. And I think the music and the story, certainly. It’s just a tradition for a lot of generations…I think why it’s also a tradition is that it involves so many people. It’s ballet, it’s live music. We have a cast of over 180 people this year, which is our largest ever, but there’s so many different people involved in it.
Yvonne, how has this evolved for you? And how have you gotten it to such an artistic level?
I remember it starting when I was 11, and starting it from there when they only did the half production of it because they didn’t have enough people to be in it, and from then it’s grown into this regular tradition. So since 1979 it’s been a tradition here in Lubbock and that’s older than most the people that come to see it. So, it has been a tradition in this town and I think it’s become more of a way people start their holidays. It’s like Nick said, I have so many people that say I have nothing to do with ballet but my grandmother went and my mother went and now I go. So it’s become that tradition.
Our job as the teachers and the directors has been to raise the level each year, just like in everything in life, things get better. So you raise the bar each time. The training gets better. The dancers get better. The demand gets better. The physical demands get better and you expect more. And so they all live up to these expectations. So the training, you have to get better to keep up with the times. There’s really no other alternative, it’s Darwinism right? You have to keep up.
Listen to the full interview at the top of the article.