On Thursday, Dec. 19, Alexandra Cunningham was at the barre going through the normal warm-ups and routines along with the other dancers in Studio 1 at the Sacramento Ballet studio complex.
This Friday, however, while the troupe prepares for the five remaining performances of this season's holiday favorite, "The Nutcracker," Miss Cunningham, a principal dancer with the Ballet, will be prepped for surgery.
Miss Cunningham, daughter of the Sacramento Ballet's Co-Artistic Directors, Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda, will undergo arthroscopic surgery on her left knee, a surgery that was unplanned until after the opening weekend's performances.
Of the 13 scheduled performances, Miss Cunningham was set to dance the role of Sugar Plum Fairy in seven shows and the Snow Queen in six of the performances. But during the opening weekend, her already torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) was aggravated to the point doctors advised her to give up the highly technical roles.
Miss Cunningham's pain was not evident in her opening night performance, but she was well aware of the damage done and knew that continuing without medical intervention could jeopardize her ability to dance again. Kirsten Bloom-Allen, who had plans to come out of retirement to dance the Sugar Plum Fairy was contacted and flew up from San Diego last weekend to fill the void.
I spoke with Miss Cunningham today in the studio and she said, "it is disappointing." But she plans to be back in short order. I asked her if there was any specific incident that resulted in the torn ligament. She said that it was from all the twisting and pivoting that causes stress on the knee.
Considering the training and performance demands of a ballerina, Miss Cunningham has fared quite well with keeping her body intact while moving up the ranks and dancing highly technical roles. The 26 year-old ballerina began studying ballet at age seven; she is now in her eight year with the Sacramento Ballet.
Nevertheless, Miss Cunningham's injury brings disappointment to many, and those who are familiar with her beauty and brilliance as a dancer will surely miss her presence on stage, as will the other dancers with the Sacramento Ballet, a world-class group that works together well.
The timing of Miss Cunningham's much needed surgery could not be worse, but she would be the first to use the old adage, "the show must go on." And it will.
Just remember, Alexandra, your presence will sorely be missed!
There are only five shows remaining. Get your tickets before they sell out!
Tickets for all shows can be purchased online or at the Ballet box office.
Performance dates with live music:
December 20, 7:00pm — Kirsten Bloom performs as the Sugar Plum Fairy
December 23, 1:00pm
Performance dates to recorded music:
December 21, 2:00pm — Kirsten Bloom performs as the Sugar Plum Fairy
December 22, 1:00pm
December 22, 5:30pm — Kirsten Bloom performs as the Sugar Plum Fairy