Arts preview: BalletMet's "The Nutcracker"

Jim Fischer

Clothes make the man.

Of course, a wig, makeup and a sizeable framework underneath the clothes helps, too, as BalletMet Columbus dancers Austin Finley and Mark David Bloodgood can attest.

Finley and Bloodgood are dancing the role of Mother Ginger in this year's production of "The Nutcracker." While both were dubious about the role being a young boy dancer's dream, they've embraced the fun and warm-hearted comedy offered by the role, a female character traditionally performed by a male dancer.

"Everyone knows it's a guy, so you just do it purposefully over-the-top," Finley said.

"I'm just naturally a goofball, and this (role) is all about the character," Bloodgood added.

Indeed, there's not much dancing going on with Mother Ginger. Because the comic aspect of the ballet includes children appearing from under Mother Ginger's dress, the framework protrudes from the dancer's hips about two to three feet in both directions.

"I shuffle my feet a lot of the time, otherwise I'll trip," Finley said. "The dress doesn't exactly move with you. It has a mind of its own."

"We're trained that people can always see your legs and feet. But people see the dress, because it sort of has a lag," Bloodgood said.

Bloodgood added that the wig is so tall as to resemble Marge Simpson's hair. Additionally, the makeup involves a full whiteface (mime style) with extreme facial features added. The entire makeup process takes about 45 minutes.

Bloodgood is in his first season with BalletMet and making his debut in the role.

"I've been watching a lot of Monty Python and 'Mrs. Doubtfire,'" he said.

Finley first danced the role several season back, initially as an emergency fill-in for dancer Jimmy Orrante, whose wife was having a baby.

"I must be doing something right," he said.

Ohio Theatre

through Dec. 27

39 E. State St., Downtown