New Company Artist Patric Palkens’ Holiday Homecoming

Boston Ballet Staff

New England native Patric Palkens tells us about his first Nutcracker experience and what you can expect from him this holiday season.

Heather McLernon, Ezra Lovesky, and Patric Palkens work on Nutcracker costume fittings

Photo Credit: Boston Ballet Staff

Photo courtesy of Patric Palkens

Heather McLernon, Ezra Lovesky, and Patric Palkens work on Nutcracker costume fittings

Photo Credit: Boston Ballet Staff

Photo courtesy of Patric Palkens

What is your favorite holiday memory? 

Patric: Christmas Eve with my grandparents. My grandma used to make homemade caramels—and she would individually wrap each one. She was very, very precise about it, and they were the BEST. We would eat those and decorate the tree.

What is your first Nutcracker experience?

P: My first-ever experience was here in Boston. My mom took me and my siblings to see it when I was very small. But I didn’t grow up going to ballet school, so I have not been doing Nutcracker since I was little like most other dancers. My first time performing [The Nutcracker], I was 18 as a second company member in Orlando Ballet. There I was learning Russian and mouse.

What parts are you learning for The Nutcracker?

P: A whole lot! Nutcracker Prince, both the side Russian and the lead Russian, Pastorale, Chinese, Harlequin, and I think one of the parents.

What do you expect to be different and new about performing in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker?

P: This Nutcracker has both story-time children’s holiday magic and full-fledged classical ballet.

How do you prepare for a performance the day of?

P: I eat lots of pasta around 2 pm. I go find an Italian restaurant and really carbo-load on some Alfredo and then try really hard not to nap around 4 pm. It’s my only excuse to eat a lot of bread.

What do you want audiences to take away from your performances?

P: I usually just try to think about presenting [a work] to the best of my ability. I can’t control what an audience member takes away, so the best I can do is put forth a valiant effort and hope that they notice and appreciate that. If there’s anything that I want them to take away, it’s that ballet is exciting and it’s not just for little girls! Ballet is more than tutus and pointe shoes.

I think that Nutcracker is the first time a lot of children—both boys and girls—experience ballet. Does that come into play for you at all?

P: In this Nutcracker, there are a lot of boys dancing. It’s about the whole company. Boys in ballet do more than walk girls around the stage now! And that’s exciting.

Patric Palkens, Irlan Silva, and Paulo Arrais in Wayne McGregor's Obsidian Tear

Patric Palkens, Irlan SIlva, and Paulo Arrais in Wayne McGregor's Obsidian Tear

Photo Credit: Rosalie O'Connor

How’s your transition to Boston Ballet from Cincinnati Ballet been?

P: It’s been actually really good, but it’s tough! I’m used to spending most of my day on only the next performance, but Boston Ballet rehearses much of the season’s productions in a very small chunk of time. Being here has forced me to be more on the ball, to get better at changing gears. This morning in a three-hour period I went from rehearsing Obsidian Tear to Romeo & Juliet and back to a different part of Obsidian Tear. When you switch gears many times a day, it’s challenging, but great.

What’s your favorite thing about Boston Ballet?

P: Costumes, staff, and the studios. Costumes here are AWESOME. They’re so cool. Romeo & Juliet looks so beautiful, and I’m excited to have my Nutcracker fitting this week. The diversity of the staff is fantastic, and everybody here expects hard work. They’re here to support and push me to be my best self. Having seven big, beautiful studios is also really nice. The facilities here are incredible.

And what’s your favorite thing about Boston?

P: This is a long-time coming homecoming for me. I’m from Stoneham. I haven’t been back in so long, so the best thing is being close to home and family again. My first ballet experience was here. My mom taught me dance for a very long time starting here at her studio; so for me to go from that to here is really cool. I’m proud of that and so is my family.

How many people are coming to see your first show?

P: Like 45. Just wait—there’s a party bus coming.

Which do you prefer: the Snow Scene or Waltz of the Flowers?

P: Snow. It’s an ambiance you can’t replicate. That’s my favorite piece of music in The Nutcracker, the whole thing from the transition out of battle scene into the end of the first act. I love those scenes. I know it’s silly—it’s just paper falling from the ceiling—but it’s really quite beautiful.

The illusion we create is intended to deepen your understanding of reality.

Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director
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