SF Ballet’s Nutcracker is known for the sheer amount of snow that falls during the Snow Scene—it’s a legitimate blizzard!
The snowflakes are made out of paper and are created by a giant hole puncher. During the performance, three long, narrow bags of 200 pounds of snow are suspended above the stage, hidden from the audience. Each bag is manipulated by two members of the stage crew who make the snow fall. During intermission, the fallen snow is swept and shoveled into large bins. It is sifted through to remove dirt, hairpins, sequins, and other debris and then reused at the next performance.
At intermission, the question on everyone’s lips seems to be: how do the snowflakes dance in all that snow?
So we asked two dancers, Principal Dancer Jennifer Stahl and Corps de Ballet member Ludmila Bizalion, how they navigate the snow scene. Stahl says that because it can get slippery, the dancers put rosin (a powdered form of tree resin) on their shoes to make them stickier. She also reports “little tricks like aiming towards the zones where less snow is dumped.” Bizalion says she tries to remember to breathe through her nose. It’s hard, she says, but by the end of the run, “we get used to it!”