Dancing the Russian Cossack in the Nutcracker – A Dream Come True

First season company dancer with San Diego Ballet, Ryan Walker, reflects on his lifelong dream of being a Russian Cossack dancer in The Nutcracker.

Since I was nine, I have always wanted to perform as the flying Russian Cossack. Now, ten years later, that dream has finally become a reality.

I first remember seeing Russian in 2007 when I was a party boy in Sierra Nevada Ballet’s production of “The Peanutcracker: The Story in a Nutshell”. When I wasn’t dancing, I was allowed to watch the professionals do their variations and solos. While the Sugar Plum Fairy, Chinese, Snow, and all the others were very impressive, the one that really caught my eye, and started a decade long obsession, was the male dancer who performed Russian. His leaping and flying, spending more time in the air than on the ground, astounded me, and I decided that someday, that was going to be me.

Since then I have performed The Nutcracker with a variety of companies in a number of locations and in a number of roles. I had performed everything from a soldier in the battle, Fritz in party scene, Chinese in the Land of the Sweets, and the Nutcracker himself, but over the last ten years, I had never had the opportunity to fulfill my dream until this year.

In my first season at San Diego Ballet I have the great pleasure of performing as the flying Russian Cossack! Being able to leap and turn all around the stage, I am fulfilling the dream I have had for the last ten years.

I first performed this part on stage in Billings, Montana, where San Diego Ballet tours every year with their Nutcracker production. With the wonderful cast of SDB company dancers, as well as students from the San Diego Ballet School joining the local ballet students, we performed to sold out shows with a wonderful orchestra accompanying us.

The sold-out performances didn’t just end there, but continued as we traveled to Sheridan, Wyoming and our final stop in Cheyenne. With a total of six shows in three cities over the course of two weeks, it was a very exciting adventure.

Now we have returned to San Diego where we will be able to perform to a home crowd. I am so honored to be a part of this and I hope do be able to take part in for many years!