#PBTNutcracker: How a Principal Ballerina Embraces Her Inner Child

Artistic Director Terrence Orr’s The Nutcracker is a coming-of-age story, following Marie and the nephew’s personal transformations and budding romance. Principal Alexandra Kochis, who dances the role of Marie in PBT’s The Nutcracker, finds inspiration in her own personal transformation as a dancer. According to Kochis, Orr’s The Nutcracker shows the value of embracing your inner child, innocence, purity and excitement for life.

Have you had a coming of age experience comparable to Marie’s?
“The first thing that comes to mind is when I first went away for a ballet summer program at the American Ballet Theatre when I was 13. It was my first time away from home for an extended time (five weeks) and it was a character-building experience for me. I guess you can juxtapose that to falling in love because it is scary and empowering.”

How does playing a young girl influence your dancing?
“There is a sense of bubbliness. A lot of light-on-your feet, fluttering-ness. The word exuberant keeps coming to mind.”

What is your favorite Nutcracker performance memory with PBT?
“This is my 12th season here, and in 10 of them I danced Marie with my husband (former PBT Principal Christopher Budzynski) as the Nephew. When he is transformed back into a man and I touch his now human face, it is such a stripped-down moment of emotion and, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of the ballet.”

How does that memory influence your perspective for this year? Does it challenge or inspire you?
“That kind of transportive-ness is something I both try to seek and relish in every part I dance. A lot of that has to do with the music and the energy between you and your partner. That is why I dance.”

The holidays are such a whimsical time of year. How does that influence you and your dancing?
“Anyone in the audience can identify with begin a little kid and the feeling of Christmas. Every time I am standing on the landing waiting for the performance, I try to get that tingling experience I am sure everyone remembers.”

Why is this role is special to you?
“Dancing the role of Marie in Mr. Orr’s production has always been my favorite of all the roles that I get to dance. For one, because you are the medium through which the audience experiences this wonderful journey. You are the link between their memories and nostalgia and the current experience they are having in the theater. But also, with each performance that I dance, it serves as a personal reminder to appreciate the most beautiful things about the holiday season – the wonder, the joy and the love.”