Meet the Sugar Plum Fairy in Milwaukee Ballet Company’s ’The Nutcracker’

We asked ballerina Alana Griffith how she’ll stay in tiptop shape while performing in The Nutcracker this season.

Alana Griffith has spent a lot of time on her toes.

The daughter of professional dancers, she began practicing her pliés and pirouettes at an incredibly early age. “I’ve been in dance classes since I was 2 years old,” says Griffith, adding that she got more serious about it at age 10. By 17, the LA native was studying at the English National Ballet School in London.

From there, the brunette ballerina twisted, turned and leaped her way into the Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas before she made her way here. Now in her seventh season with the Milwaukee Ballet Company, the 27-year-old will dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy in this season’s offering of The Nutcracker.


“We rehearse for about five to six weeks for each production. Monday through Friday, we have class at 9:30, and we go until 6:15. Our weekends are our own, but it’s usually just a lot of resting.”

Show Days

“I like to take a bath in the morning to warm up my body before I go in. And I usually spend a lot of time on a foam roller. I always have lots of coffee and vitamins and water. I also listen to music that pumps me up, like Led Zeppelin.”


“People prepare themselves differently. Some like really calm and Zen rooms, and some are blasting reggaeton and singing. Everyone has a ritual. Another one of the girls in the company and I have this superstitious ritual of giving each other good luck by kicking each other in the butt and then giving each other a kiss on the cheek.”

After the Show

“We’re all pretty wired with adrenaline, so it’s hard to relax. I’ll take a hot shower and try to read something or watch something silly on TV to get my mind off the show. And I’ll eat a little, like a piece of chicken or hummus and veggies because you’re so tired but starving.”

On Going Pro

“A lot of years of training and determination go into what you see on stage. It’s like gymnastics: You have to know that you want it at a really young age, and then you have to give up a lot of growing up to get to that professional point.”

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s December issue. 

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Based in his hometown of Madison, Steve is a freelance reporter and regular contributor to Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus and many other publications. During his undergraduate studies at UW-Milwaukee, he wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Shepherd Express. Now a graduate student at UW-Madison, he'll build on his 15 years of experience in print by focusing on multimedia reporting and data visualization.