ER: My name is Angelika and I work with young women in recovery from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker ballet. Young women like myself who as little girls were sent off to ballet class at the hands of Soviet Russian teachers.

SS (RUSSIAN): And plie, pirouette, developpe, No, no, no, no, no. Not like that. You look like dishrag. Get your leg higher. HIGHER! I said leg UP!

ER: In Boston the Nutcracker was an institution, sort of like Leavenworth or Sing-Sing. Only in Ballet, the barres are made of wood, not iron. Rehearsals started in August and the show opened in October and ran through mid-March. You started out as a doll, then a soldier, then a party girl. A flower or a snowflake, if you were lucky. If you had a big butt and short legs, you were a reindeer. Everyone wanted to be Clara and you had to fight other girls to get it. Getting the role of Clara means you're pretty and you'll have a happy life and marry a fabulous guy and drive a BMW and get pedicures on the weekends. Being a reindeer means that you look better with antlers.


ER: I went to ballet class six days a week after school and to suppress my appetite, I started drinking espresso and smoking cigarettes at the age of 8.

TR (RUSSIAN): For some, the waltz of the sugar plum fairy is about candy, but for us it is about enduring pain.

ER: I danced my way up through the ranks. When I was 11, I was one of four finalists for the role of Clara and I was beaten out by a sociopath named Sara who was obsessed with her reflection in the mirror. They made me a rabbit instead. Sara went prancing past me, and I grand jeted out in front of her and tripped her with my toe and she came after me with a giant candy cane and they had to bring down the curtain. It was wonderful.


When I was 12 and I had developed breasts and Clara cannot have a bosom. So I wrapped an elastic bandage around my chest for the audition and I danced my heart out but I tripped and broke my ankle. I finished my dance, but the Russians could hear the bones of my ankle grinding and they saw my red shoes where I had bled all over them. Mr. Koleshnikov said, "Thank you." But I knew what he meant was, "No thank you."


ER: That was 16 years ago. My ankle healed in about eight months and I went into a 12-step program, Sugar Plums In Recovery, and I learned to stop letting the Nutcracker define me. And I found my true calling in life. Helping young women who didn't get to play Clara, find new goals meaning in their lives.

On the side, I do magic at birthdays and bar mitzvahs. I wave my hanky (SNAP) and there's a mouse (SFX). I take off my hat and pull out a swan (SFX). I wave my wand and snow falls (SFX). The money isn't bad. And people love magic. So, it's OK I wasn't Clara. Things happen for a reason. You can only be Clara until you're 12 or 13. You can do magic forever.. (PIANO LIGHT FINISH OF NUTCRACKER MELODY)