BOISE, Idaho — This holiday season marks Ballet Idaho's first performance at the Morrison Center since the start of the pandemic. They continued to put on shows throughout the pandemic, but in a different way to keep everyone safe. Now, they're kicking off this season of shows with a holiday classic.
Jessica Sulikowski and graham Gobeille are no strangers to performing The Nutcracker.
"This will be my 14th nutcracker with the company," Sulikowski said.
They both joined Ballet Idaho in 2008 and have been a part of the company ever since.
"We were really lucky here at Ballet Idaho because we were able to stay employed through the whole time in the pandemic and we still had work," Sulikowski said.
That didn't mean business as usual. At the beginning of the pandemic, they had digital rehearsals, every dancer practicing in their living room. Then practicing in pods.
"You only partnered, one individual or nobody and that was a pre-agreed upon condition. And you kind of knew what they were doing in their personal life and they knew what you were doing in yours to really have that trust that it was a safe situation," Gobeille said.
Now, this production of The Nutcracker marks a return to some sense of normalcy for Ballet Idaho.
"There are a lot of changes and a lot of things that still feel the same. Obviously, we're in masks right now to stay really safe," Sulikowski said. "The first dress rehearsal, we got to take our masks off, and there's some people in the company that we've never even seen their faces before."
Much of this is familiar for Sulikowski and Gobeille.
"There's nothing quite like getting on a stage with sets and costumes and an audience who's feeding off your energy," Gobeille said.
It's anything but boring.
"Stepping on stage, it just felt like everything was already in my body and it just knew what to do so I could really let my mind loose, stay in the moment and really enjoy myself," Sulikowski said.
There are also many positive emotions the dancers were feeling ahead of this production.
"There's a lot of joy. I mean it's just--we've missed this. We've missed our community, we've missed each other, we've missed the audience, we've missed dancing on stage," Gobeille said.
This is just the beginning of shows Ballet Idaho is set to perform this season. You can find the full schedule by clicking here.