Boni’s studio saves seasonal favorite

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Anna Sneed

Herr Drosselmeyer, played by Chuck Schuetz, holds guests at the party in his spell during “The Nutcracker” at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Nov. 17.

After months of canceled performances and rehearsals, dancers at Boni’s Dance Studio were eager for the news of their annual Nutcracker performance. The weekend performances were one of the first since the hit of Covid-19 in March.

The show was a perfect beginning to the holiday season at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, a pleasant surprise compared to the usual location at The Woodlands College Park High School. The cool breeze, combined with the nostalgic music of the Nutcracker, created the perfect atmosphere. The weekend consisted of four shows: two matinees and two evening shows.

Backstage view of the party scene from “The Nutcracker” Nov. 27 at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. (Anna Sneed)

Dancer Mackenzie Noyes said, “Finding out that our annual Nutcracker performance was still going to happen was the best news I’ve heard since March.” Mackenzie Noyes is also on the Boni’s en Toure competitive dance team and spoke of how they only attended one competition and their nationals were canceled last Spring. “After nationals were canceled, and Nutcracker auditions soon after, I lost all hope that we would be able to have a [normal] senior year at dance. But we eventually got to audition and I got the lead role of the Sugar Plum Fairy – which obviously made the situation much better. I had dreamed of this role for years, so not only earning the role but also performing at the Pavilion this year made this year a little better.”

Covid-19 has hit dance companies hard as dancers are constantly breathing on and touching each other, therefore unable to practice. Professional ballet companies like the Houston Ballet and the New York Ballet have canceled their productions of The Nutcracker for the first time in years. Many workers have been laid off due to insufficient income when there are no performances planned. But Boni has combated lay-offs and show cancellations by creating alternatives. The Nutcracker performances were only able to take place due to dancers’ and teachers’ diligent efforts. “We wear masks 24/7 in the studio for multiple hours a day – it gets tiring. But we know that if we want to dance that’s what we have to do, and all we want to do is perform” said Noyes.

Bonnie Schuetz, director, onstage during the party scene as “The Nutcracker” opens at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Nov. 27. (Anna Sneed)

Social distancing and required masks made this year’s Boni’s Nutcracker a little different, but the holiday spirit brought everyone together again to watch a magical performance.