Arabian Nights

What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way? (250 words)


Every year as the air turns frigid and wreaths start to adorn front doors, you’re bound to hear cheery, classical music from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Not only is it an internationally popular ballet, but also a ballet representative of Christmas. The most typically heard pieces in the media are the Russian Dance, March, or Sugar Plum Variation. However, a less well known song in the Nutcracker, uniquely intriguing for its distinct quality, is the Arabian dance sequence.

In the midst of the classical ballet, this music changes the energy for a moment and transports one to a mysterious place in the Middle East. The woodwinds and violins create a swaying, languid melody with a smooth and bold, drone bass underlying. A quality of a truly artistic and advanced dancer is the ability to visually, with movement and expression, portray the music.

The Arabian Princess was my first lead role, my first time carrying the weight of this expectation. Learning to feel the earthy, lyrical melody and to know every nuance of the rhythm was as challenging as it was rewarding. When it came time for my own Nutcracker show, it was like my pulse aligned with the hum of the bass when I took the stage. Taking the time to wrestle with the unique...

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