Oakland Ballet Company is pleased to bring you: “Behind Graham Lustig’s ‘The Nutcracker’” as part of our “Behind Oakland Ballet” blog. Throughout December, we will be posting interviews with professional dancers, staff, volunteers, and superfans! Make sure to check out these fun, behind-the-scenes features and learn why Oakland Ballet Company is so loved by our community.
Chantelle Pianetta is a Bay Area native and began her training at the Contra Costa Ballet School. At age 14, she was accepted as a full time student into the School of American Ballet in New York City. At SAB, she performed with the New York City Ballet. This is her fourth season with Oakland Ballet. She is dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker
How you are affiliated with OBC and how did you get involved?
I auditioned for OBC in 2010 when Graham Lustig first became the artistic director. This is my fourth season dancing in Graham Lustig’s The Nutcracker
Why is OBC important to Oakland?
Oakland has become a mecca of art and culture that continues to grow each year. From the historical Paramount Theater to the budding modern art galleries, old and new artistic forms are blended throughout the city. OBC echoes and supports this aesthetic by honoring classical ballet but also incorporating new work and choreographic styles. It adds greatly to Oakland’s embodiment of artistic diversity.
What is your favorite scene in The Nutcracker?
My favorite scene is the polichinelle dance, which occurs just before I dance the Grand Pas de Deux. In this scene, the polichinelle children and bons bons dance with Marie and Herr Drosselmeyer (who has magically become 10ft tall!). Each show I watch as the littlest children pop out one by one from behind the gold walls. They always bring a smile to my face. Witnessing their youthful exuberance never fails to calm my nerves for the technically challenging feats ahead and to inspire me to dance with that much joy as I step on stage in the next scene as the Sugar Plum Fairy.
How long have you been dancing?
What advice would you give young dancers?
I would advise them to set small achievable goals for themselves weekly (like improving a difficult step or stretching consistently). One of my biggest challenges as a young dancer was setting expectations for myself that were too great and partially out of my control such as: “I need to get into this program” or “I want to dance this role”. Ironically, the times I was most successful and ended up achieving the big goals were the times I set the large expectations aside and worked on improving what I could day to day, focusing only on the present.