En Pointe: Meet the Saint Louis Ballet’s Sugar Plum Fairy

For Amy Herchenroether, there was never any doubt that she belonged on the stage. Growing up in Pennsylvania, she pursued ballet and trained at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Boston Ballet. Since 2013, she’s been living her dream performing with the Saint Louis Ballet. This holiday season, she’ll help bring a holiday classic to life as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the company’s production of The Nutcracker.

Have you always enjoyed ballet?
For as long as I can remember. When I was little, my mom would read Angelina Ballerina books to me, and I would tell her that’s what I was going to do. My parents enrolled me in ballet school, and once it became clear that this was something I really wanted to pursue, I started attending Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for more professional training. I kept going from there and still haven’t stopped.

What do you enjoy about performing?
I enjoy being able to express myself with my body. In most classical ballet, you don’t speak. It’s interesting to convey emotions and, in many cases, a full-length narrative through body movement alone. I love that challenge.

How was it making the transition from the east coast to St. Louis?
I’ve always been so immersed in my work, and the ballet company has such a sense of community. It was an easy transition because you spend so much time in the studio around your fellow dancers. It gives you an instant sense of belonging.

Do you have a favorite role?
My first principal role in a full length ballet was the titular character in Giselle, so it will always be special to me. Last season, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to dance as Odette and Odile in Swan Lake. Sometimes, those roles are split between dancers, so I was really grateful to have the chance to perform both. It is a challenging performance because it’s two unique characters you have to tap into, and it’s also physically difficult because you are on stage so much.

Is this your first time as the Sugar Plum Fairy?
It is actually my seventh time, which offers its own unique challenge. When you have the opportunity to do the same role multiple times, you want to find ways to keep it feeling fresh and new. Of course, it is technically demanding choreography, so there is always something you can improve upon in your next performance. You’ve never going to achieve perfection, but you can try to make it better and better every time. You also get to see new faces in the audience who haven’t experienced The Nutcracker.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of the ballet’s season?
The Nutcracker is always a highlight because we have so many opportunities to perform. For most of our productions, we do between two and four performances, but for The Nutcracker, we usually do closer to 12 or 15. Getting to be on stage more is exciting—it’s the best part of the job after all. I’m also looking forward to Sleeping Beauty in the spring because we’ll be working with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. Live music is always a highlight.

Photos: Kelly Pratt, courtesy of Saint Louis Ballet

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