The “big dance” means something entirely different for former Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd this week. And it requires a completely different uniform than he’s used to.
Boyd will don a tux and dance his way onstage for three minutes during the party scene of Carolina Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker: Once Upon a Time in Greenville,” Dec. 22–23, at the Peace Center Concert Hall.
“It’s too long — it should be a 30-second role,” he says, laughing. “I might be a little clumsy. I gotta get a haircut first.”
Boyd is one of four special guests — two from Greenville, one from New York City and one from Miami — featured in the year’s production. Leslie Haas, local entreprenuer and barre-exercise enthusiast, will be Boyd’s partner on stage. Principal dancer Daniel Ulbricht from New York City Ballet and principal dancer Jeanette Delgado from Miami City Ballet will be performing on opening night as the Cavalier and adult Clara, respectively.
Herman Justo, CBT artistic director and creator of this version, says it is different in two ways from the original choreography and libretto by Marius Petipa. First, the story happens in Greenville, as is evident in the sets: The snow scene happens in Falls Park on the Reedy, and the Land of the Sweets also takes place downtown. Secondly, Herr Drosselmeyer, rather than Clara, has the dream that is the catalyst for the fanciful scenes that follow. Justo says that second change affects the two principals, because the famous Sugar Plum Fairy doesn’t exist in Drosselmeyer’s dream, so the grand pas de deux between the Cavalier and her becomes part of Clara’s wedding.
“Everything else is as traditional as can be,” Justo says. “We just change the way to narrate the story, but [it] is choreographed based in the original version.”
The ballet also includes recognizable Greenville characters from “Mice on Main” by Linda Kelly, Zan Wells and Jim Ryan and “Tails on the Trail” by author Stephanie Morgan and illustrator Laura Lynn Luce.
Ulbricht, who says he has performed hundreds of “Nutcrackers,” is excited to dance with CBT for the first time and share the dance with the Greenville community.
“I usually don’t dance the Cavalier role in New York, so I am always excited to perform it wherever it may be,” he says. “In the end, it is not the holiday season without the ‘Nutcracker.’”
“The Nutcracker: Once Upon a Time in Greenville”
When: Dec. 22, 7 p.m., featuring guest principals
Dec. 23, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., featuring CBT principals
Where: The Peace Center Concert Hall