Within the early morning hours of November 30, a nervous Jenelle Manzi sat in entrance of her dressing room mirror, questioning if she remembered the way to carry out. The skilled ballerina was about to make her return to The Nutcracker after recovering from an ankle fracture, an damage that sidelined her from the stage for months.
However as quickly because the curtains rose, the New York Metropolis Ballet veteran reminded herself that her expertise are “second nature,” as Manzi tells SELF.
For a lot of ballet firms, performing The Nutcracker is an annual vacation custom. The traditional story follows Marie (in some variations referred to as Clara) who receives a nutcracker reward and travels to a magical land on Christmas Eve. This 12 months, Manzi performs Marie’s mom—a job that requires a fairly tough maneuver the place she should place a cloak on Marie whereas surrounded by candles. It was the scene Manzi was most nervous about, after knocking over a candle in the course of the costume rehearsal. However for her first efficiency again, she nailed it.
“It was like no time had handed,” says Manzi, who has danced with the New York Metropolis Ballet since 2006. “I’m feeling good. I’m excited to get again totally and be performing each evening, as a result of it’s such a development getting back from an damage.”
Manzi lives with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome—an inherited connective tissue dysfunction that makes joints hypermobile—and has dealt together with her share of accidents because of it, together with one on the age of 17 that stored her from dancing for 2 years. The situation, she says, has made dancing simpler in some methods (she’s extraordinarily versatile, which leads to nice extension, as an illustration) however tougher in others, since her joints come out, inflicting accidents and irritation.
“I did not perceive why my physique did not really feel like anybody else’s; I did not perceive why my physique would come out in sure locations the place nobody else’s would,” she says.
It’s been a variety of “trial and error,” she says, referring to what sort of coaching and restoration makes her physique really feel finest, however she’s now in a greater place. Due to the assistance of medical doctors and different specialists, she has a greater deal with of what works for her and what doesn’t, and is ready to work that information into her coaching.
And her function in The Nutcracker this 12 months is a fruits of that: For Manzi, who has been dancing since age 4 and performing in The Nutcracker since age 16, hitting the stage for maybe the world’s most well-known vacation ballet brings her again to “childlike pleasure,” she says.
“[After seeing The Nutcracker] I had this huge dream of at some point dancing in it myself, and who knew I might make it to that precise stage,” Manzi says. “At any time when issues really feel robust, I all the time replicate on how I am residing out my lifelong dream—nothing beats it.”
Whereas it could be a dream half, dancing The Nutcracker includes a grueling schedule, particularly in the course of the holidays, when the corporate usually performs back-to-back reveals. They’ve varied begin occasions—all the pieces from 1 p.m. within the afternoon to eight p.m. within the night—which makes moving into a daily routine troublesome. Plus, even after her curtain name, Manzi doesn’t have a lot time to relaxation. She makes use of her off hours to run Get Golden, a pure snack firm she launched in 2020. The seeds for Get Golden had been planted whereas Manzi was injured as a teen and have become taken with vitamin as a approach to assist her restoration.