Ballet dancer and Butte College student Jenna Large sat down with The Orion to share some of her favorite parts of “The Nutcracker,” her thoughts about a career in dance and details about her most recent dance injury.
Large can be seen as protagonist Clara alongside other dancers from Chico Community Ballet in this year’s production of “The Nutcracker,” presented by Chico Performances Dec 4-7 at Laxson Auditorium.
How long have you been with Chico Community Ballet?
I moved to Chico (from France) when I was nine, so that’s 9 years that I have been with them. I graduated from high school when I was 16, and right now I am in my second year at Butte College working to become a physical therapist. I want to work with dancers that have had injuries and help them get back into shape.
Have you ever had a dance injury?
After last Nutcracker, I got accepted into Boston Ballet School. I went there for two weeks and ended up tearing the cartilage in my hip. It was this huge process in which I had to do six months of physical therapy before I could be eligible to have a surgery. So I ended up getting hip surgery last November. (The surgeons) repaired the cartilage, and then the neck of my femur was too large so they shaved that down. So now I don’t have a impingement in my hip, which means I can dance better.
How long have you been dancing since the surgery?
Since April. That was when I was given the OK to start dancing again. So, not that long. But it came back really quickly; dance isn’t something that your body just forgets. It was more about re-training my leg to work with its new composition.
What’s your favorite part of “The Nutcracker?”
My favorite dancing part of “The Nutcracker” is the coda. The coda is just this really exciting, really quick, just get out there and dance for a minute of super intense music (number). It’s exciting and fun. It’s not too difficult, but the audience really enjoys it. However, my favorite non-dancing part of “The Nutcracker” is the snowflakes. I am not in that part of that scene, but it’s by far the most beautiful part of “The Nutcracker.”
What’s going on during that scene?
It’s when Clara falls asleep and the Nutcracker comes to life. And her and the Nutcracker are traveling to the Land of Sweets. It has a lot of different levels of dancing and music, when it’s really soft and really pretty and then it’s really intense and strong. There are a lot of cool special effects, like falling snow on the stage, and it’s really pretty.
What has been the most challenging part of doing “The Nutcracker?”
Physically, trying to get my hip back into dancing full-on like this. I mean, I danced this summer to get back into shape, but experiencing the cold weather has been quite an adventure. Also, doing full run-through and getting my energy up was a little hard, but now it’s going really smoothly.
After you graduate from Butte College, are you looking to continue your dancing career?
Well, I am kind of in-between right now, ’cause I really like school. I like the idea of having a future that is going to be there for me, and thinking of physical therapy I know I will be able to get a job and work with dancers. But on the other hand, I want to keep dancing. Dancing professionally you can’t go to school, there is just no time. There is such a strict timeline on ballet. You can only dance in ’til you’re 40 years old, maybe. That’s if you have been taking really good care of yourself. Part of me just wants to quit school and move to the East Coast and keep dancing, while the other part wants to keep going to school and amount to something.
If you had one thing to say to audiences about the show, what would it be?
Pay really close attention to detail. There is so much hidden in the details. There is so much that happens in act one that transfers directly to act two. I think it’s more exciting when you can decipher what’s going to happen based on the dancing.
Date: Dec 4-7Time: 7:30 p.m. Dec 4-6 and 2 p.m. Dec 6-7Location: Laxson AuditoriumPrice for Chico State student: $10
Tickets can be bought online or at the University Box Office.
Kristen Moran can be reached at arts [email protected] or @Kristenvmoran on Twitter.