the balance pointe

This is the seventh year I have performed in The Nutcracker. It is my sixth year as Clara’s mother, and the fifth time I have written a letter to the two young women dancing as Clara. This year’s letter is different. It is not only for the two Claras, it is also for the two young men who are dancing as the Nutcracker—one of whom is our son Cole.


Dearest Clara and Nutcracker,

Here you are. Together. You’ve been practicing the pas de deux for hours and days and weeks and months. Each turn, each lift, each leap. You’ve learned more than the steps. More than the technique. You’ve learned about partnership.

You’ve learned how to connect. How to create community. How to find your people. People who matter. People you like. People who like you. They don’t have to be people who are like you—the more diversity, the better. What is important is that they support you. They tell you the truth. Yes, even when it’s hard. But who don’t tell you in a hardened way. People who are your partners. Who lift you up. Who you, in turn, lift and protect.

You’ve learned that you don’t have to dance through life alone.

And yet, you should.

Not always. Not forever. But for sometimes.

Because sometimes you focus so completely on being part of a pair, you lose yourself. Sometimes you give too much, and don’t get enough in return. Sometimes, you work so hard to make their dreams come true, you forget your own.

To be equals, begin as individuals. Know yourself, so you can discover someone else. And know that the dance will shift and grow. At times it will be the Nutcracker who keeps Clara safe. And at others it will be Clara who steps in to save the day.

The most powerful thing you can bring to a partnership is you. All your quirks. All your strengths. All the crazy, funny, true pieces of you.

When you do, one + one = dazzling amazingness, not just merely two. So in the moment just before you leap, just before you lift, find your center. Know your self.

Are you strong? Be powerful. Are you graceful? Be elegant. Are you fiery? Be passionate. Bring all of you to the dance. That creates a partnership that crackles and sparkles and is the magic. On stage and in life.

The curtain will soon rise. The muscle memory is there. Your partnership awaits. So do your dreams.

With all my love,


Mama Stahlbaum

 Here are the links to the letters for the past four years: home for the holidays, blizzards of truth, life in ¾ time, in a nutshell.

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