Since we were married in 2009, Max and I have attended Ballet Arizona's The Nutcracker as a holiday date night each year. We skipped last year as we had a nine-month old who wouldn't have made it through the show (and wouldn't take a bottle, so leaving him behind wasn't an option). This year, we vowed to keep up our tradition in our new state. I found out that Huntsville Ballet Company does a production of The Nutcracker so I snagged tickets for this past weekend. The Huntsville area is literally ten times smaller than the Phoenix Metropolitan area (400,000-ish people compared to 4 million), so going in I knew it wouldn't be the same. Still, it ended up being a lovely show with a smaller town feel, and I was delighted that Huntsville even has its own symphony orchestra!
We weren't sure how our little man was going to fair during such a long show. We made a point to let him run around the halls pre-show, and did some front-loading on what was going to happen (we would sit in our seats, the lights would dim, and we would listen to music and watch the dancers while we stayed very quiet).
Parker had his own seat which we tried out for a bit pre-show, but he was too light for it to even stay down so we ended up putting him in our laps. Once the lights dimmed for the first act, the Exit signs began to glow and Parker started identifying them by exclaiming "Eyeh! Eyeh!" and pointing them all out. Exits signs are a favorite right now and they must all be identified (along with stop and yield signs). We whispered that it was time to be quiet, and once the dancers came out Parker was interested in watching them.
The funniest thing was the intermittent applause that occurs during the show. The first time Parker just kind of looked around, realizing that everyone was clapping. The next few times he caught on, but once everyone had stopped (so literally, the applause was over and then he started clapping!). By the end of the first act he had it down, and as soon as applause started he would energetically join in, clapping furiously in front of his body (and adding squeals by the very end of the show).
Parker did get wiggly at the end of the first act, which was perfect timing since he could run around during intermission. Most of the second act he spent lounged out on Dada, sucking his finger and watching the dancers. He preferred the livelier songs as opposed to the slower ones, and the very cutest part of our entire outing was when a dancer dressed as Little Bo Peep came out. Parker knew she was supposed to have some sort of animal with her, so he started saying "mooo" (except it sounds more like "mmmmm" when he says it). Then, little child dancers dressed as sheep came out and Max whispered that they were sheep, not cows. Parker perked up and started saying "baa! baa!" over and over! Of course we didn't want him calling out during the show, but he was pretty quiet and it was so darned cute! Max tried distracting him from the sheep by pointing out the wolf dancer, which confused Parker as he didn't have a sound for the wolf, ha! Those sheep made a second appearance, and also came back for the curtain call, and each time Parker would add a "baa! baa!"
And that's right, I said "curtain call" - we made it to the end! Parker was getting antsy by the very end, but since we were so close to finishing we wanted him to see the curtain call, what happens at the end of a show, and how everyone leaves once it's finished. Plus, this was a time of continuous applause, so Parker got to go crazy with his clapping and squealing which he loved. It was amazing seeing him learn something new like group applauding, and we were floored by how well he did as an audience member! We are so very happy to be sharing our tradition with our little man.