Katrina Muffley, a California native, classically trained ballerina, and one of our beloved dance instructors, just completed her fifth Nutcracker recital at Discovery. This month, we’re taking a moment to celebrate her glowing presence and unmistakeable warmth.
TC: What is your personal history with the Nutcracker ballet, and what do you love about it?
KM: I started ballet at the age of 10, and the Nutcracker was the very first ballet I performed. Although my roles changed every year, till this day, when I hear certain pieces of music from the ballet, the choreography I learned years ago still comes back to me. I treasure this ballet so much because growing up, it brought my family together. Whether it was my dedicated mom driving me to and from the shows, to my family sitting in the in audience each year, watching me perform. It was not only my tradition as a dancer, but became part of my family’s tradition as well, and as a young dancer, meant so much to me.
TC: What do you think your students gain from this holiday classic, regarding the story, music, choreography, and opportunity to perform in front of friends and loved ones?
KM: Discovery’s Nutcracker suite is very special. Although it is not the full ballet, each class is a dance of its own, and the dancers become so dedicated to their roles on stage. Whether one is a Snow Flake, a Young Clara, or a Little Mouse, each dancer is able to learn the story behind their dance, its music, and movement. As a teacher, the best part about any recital is to see your students dance on stage. For my younger students, seeing them come out on stage is a huge accomplishment, as some become shy during performances. For my older dancers, watching them work together within their dance – watching one another, listening to the music for their movements cues, and dancing with presence – is so important. Performing on stage in front of the people they care about so much (family and friends), gives them the opportunity to practice and hone in on these skills, which carries on with them in other realms of their developing lives.
TC: During the holiday season, we talk a great deal about the joy and art of giving. What motivates you all year round to infuse your teaching with generosity?
KM: My students are the ones who inspire and motivate me throughout the year to infuse my teaching with a sense of generosity. Movement, just by itself, is such a powerful and generous art form. As a teacher, I want my students to experience movement and ballet technique from a place of joy, expression, and freedom. Each week, my little students come to me with many stories about their busy lives, smiles, hugs, and true excitement. They inspire me each and every day to give a little more of “myself” to the art of teaching, and in return, I feel their movement and excitement for ballet expand, which is so rewarding to witness.