Brittany Pollack first saw the Nutcracker when she was eight years old. Now, as a Soloist with the New York City Ballet, she is a part of the holiday tradition for thousands of families.
We were lucky enough to talk with Brittany about The Nutcracker, life as a professional dancer, and the holidays in New York City.
Broadway Inbound: Where are you from and when did you move to New York?
Brittany Pollack: I grew up in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, a small town 25 miles northeast of New York City. I moved to New York City and had my first apartment (2 blocks away from Lincoln Center) at the young age of 17 years old when I got my apprenticeship with the New York City Ballet.
BI: When did you start dancing?
BP: I started dancing when I was 3 years old at a local studio in New Jersey. My sister, Lindsey, was taking dance classes at the time and I wanted to be just like her. I continued dancing there (ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, lyrical, etc.) until age 13. I then began studying at The School of American Ballet in New York City for four years before being asked to join the New York City Ballet in 2006.
BI: Aside from The Nutcracker, what your favorite New York City holiday tradition?
BP: In 2002, I was “Clara” in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York City. Ever since then, my family has made it a holiday tradition to go back and see this show during the holiday season. We always make a day of it and visit the usual New York tourist attractions – Central Park and the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.
BI: What do you like to do in NYC when it’s not the holidays?
BP: I love to explore the hidden gems that New York has to offer—including the Little Red Lighthouse under the GW Bridge, the High Line, and Central Park. I could spend an entire day people-watching from a park bench with my dog, Duncan, by my side. Of course, I always love shopping and trying out new restaurants in the city too.
BI: You dance several roles in the show—which is your favorite?
BP: I have danced almost every female role in NYCB’s production of The Nutcracker, all the way from the Maid in Act I to the Sugarplum Fairy in Act II. But my favorite role would have to be Dewdrop. Before I even joined NYCB, this was a dream role that I never imagined I would be fortunate enough to take on. I love everything about it -- the quick precise footwork, the turns & jumps, the music, and the costume. I feel like a Princess when I dance Dewdrop!
BI: What does your average day look like?
BP: I take class every morning from 10:30-11:30 to practice my technique and warm-up for my busy day. A full schedule includes rehearsals from 12:00-3:00pm, followed by lunch from 3:00-4:00pm, rehearsals from 4:00-6:00pm, and then a performance in the evening. I always manage to find time for a 15-minute physical therapy session and a nice walk with my dog outside the theater.
BI: What is the most rewarding part of being a dancer?
BP: There is a lot of hard work, time, and energy that goes into being a professional dancer, but performing onstage in front of 2,500 people every night (with one of the most prestigious ballets companies in the world) makes it all worth it. It is hard to describe the feeling I get when I am onstage; it is as if nothing else in the world matters.
BI: You will be performing on Broadway in Carousel this spring. What are you most looking forward to about your turn as Louise?
BP: I have already had a few weeks of rehearsals alongside the other cast members in Carousel (including Jessie Mueller, Joshua Henry, and Renee Fleming) and I am so incredibly inspired by their talent and energy. I am looking forward to learning more from these “greats” and challenging myself to become a better performer. I am particularly looking forward to dancing choreography by Justin Peck, a close colleague and friend whom I’ve worked very closely with before at NYCB, and becoming a tiny part of a big, beautiful story.
BI: What advice do you have for aspiring dancers?
BP: My best advice for young dancers is to be true to yourself and to not compare yourself to others. Every dancer has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths and be confident in what makes you unique. And, of course, always smile!
Thanks to Brittany for finding the time to share with us in the midst of this busy season. The Nutcracker runs through December 31st—don’t miss out on this holiday tradition!