A Whole New "Nutcracker" – Q&A with Boston Ballet II Dancer Ileana Riveron

Shannon O’Connor ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor-in-Chief

Boston Ballet II Dancer Ileana Riveron. Photo Courtesy of Boston Ballet.
Nearly a week before opening night of the Boston Ballet’s production The Nutcracker, company dancers, choreographers, directors, artists and producers are working tirelessly to make everything perfect for opening night. Boston Ballet II dancer Ileana Riveron, admidst her hectic schedule,  found the time to respond to a e-mail short Q&A covering topics from her career to the Boston Ballet’s revamped production of The Nutcracker.
Emertainment Monthly: I hear that Boston Ballet has completely redone The Nutcracker, what does this mean?
Ileana Riveron: The sets and costumes are all brand new. The designer, the costume shop, and the production staff have all been working tirelessly for over a year on them! And the result is truly spectacular. Mikko [Nissinen] (Boston Ballet Artistic Director) has re-choreographed many of the dances, as well. But all of the beloved characters are still there, and the classic story is told just as beautifully as always.
What should audiences expect coming into the show?
The audience can expect the new Nutcracker to be a perfect balance between well-loved traditions and exciting surprises.
For those who have never seen The Nutcracker ballet why should they attend?
As cliché as it sounds, The Nutcracker really embodies the spirit of Christmas. It is such a timeless classic, filled with iconic music, dynamic characters, breathtaking sets and costumes, a heart-warming story, and of course, fantastic dancing.
What is your role in the production?
I am in the corps de ballet of Waltz of the Flowers and Snow.  I’m also the maid in Party Scene. And for the first time this year, I get to be the grandma in Party Scene, as well! Each role is very different, but so much fun in its own way.
Do you find it difficult to portray roles through dance?
I think it comes fairly naturally to dancers.  The choreography and the music often tell you how to act at various times.  It’s also helpful to learn from other dancers interpretations of the role.  Then finally, you can use your unique artistry to make the character your own.
What is the atmosphere between all the company dancers like?
It’s different at every company, but at Boston Ballet, everyone is like family.  We all root for each other and support each other.  Ballet is such a physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging career, we’d all go crazy if we didn’t have the support of our coworkers and friends.
How did you get involved with the production?
The Nutcracker is an especially important production for the members of BBII – Boston Ballet’s second company. With 43 shows and so many roles to dance, BBII dancers get to perform more during the Christmas season than any other time of the year. So it is a wonderful opportunity to be seen by the artistic staff and to cultivate performance skills.
Many young girls have the dream to become a ballerina, does the career live up to the hype it is given? Why or why not?
The realty of being a ballet dancer is definitely different from the dreams I had when I was little.  On the one hand, a dancer’s life is much more difficult than I could have imagined or prepared myself for.  But on the other hand, the highs are even more thrilling than I could have dreamed.
If you could dance in any ballet, what production would it be? Why?
My dream role is Juliet in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet.  The music, the choreography, and the story are all spectacular.  I’m moved to tears every time I watch it.
The Nutcracker opens November 23 and runs through December 30 at the Boston Opera House. For tickets or more information on the production visit http://www.bostonballet.org/.
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