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This is a picture of Kepley in her doll costume.
Boston Ballet's The Nutcracker, 1995.


When my daughter Kepley was 8 years old,
she auditioned for the Boston Ballet Nutcracker.
I tell Kepley's story in The Nutcracker Doll.

Boston Ballet's casts several hundred children
in its production of The Nutcracker each year.
All of the children are students at the Boston Ballet School.
Kepley loved being in The Nutcracker so much
that she auditioned each year until she was a senior in HIgh School!

Kepley's various roles:
girl polichinelle, boy polichinelle, attendant, angel, and tea.

Her friends were lambs, mice, soldiers, cavalry, reindeer, and Clara!

One year Kepley did not get a part, so she was a costumed greeter at the front of the house and she had the opportunity to 'shadow' the stage manager and the orchestra conductor to see what their jobs were like! It was all fascinating and fun.



The Nutcracker Doll
by Mary Newell DePalma
Arthur A Levine Books/
Scholastic 2007
ISBN 978-0439802420

...a book as sweet and delectable as a Christmas cookie.
--The Horn Book, 11/07


Would you like to know more about what happens behind the scenes at a ballet?
The National Ballet of Canada has wonderful short videos on their website
about a day in the life of a dancer, making a tutu, and designing costumes.
Go to the "Behind the Scenes" page at

Boston Ballet has fun Nutcracker activities for children online. Visit Boston Ballet's website

Lonestar Ballet has a wonderful interview with costume designer Ken Busbin and many other behind-the-scenes tidbits at their website:




Paper Doll

Click here to print out a paper doll! Color the doll and the costumes, cut out, and dress!

Then, be a costume designer and draw more costumes for your doll!

(Works best when printed on stiff paper).


Happy Memories of a Ballet Mom

I spent many happy hours in the Boston Ballet building on Clarendon Street, listening to the soothing sounds of the pianos and watching the students come and go. I often cradled a warm cup of coffee and watched the day fade as my son did his homework nearby. We enjoyed these moments of calm while my daughter Kepley was in her ballet class. She was five when she began lessons at the Boston Ballet School, and we both were sad when we realized that she was having her last lesson at age 18.

Like so many other students, Kepley looked forward to performing in The Nutcracker each year. Each role and each Nutcracker had its own special stories, its own special magic. Kepley was thrilled to be a part of it.

Now I volunteer in the Costume Shop, lending a hand to some of Boston Ballet’s most talented creators-of-magic, and Kepley is a junior at Boston College. In an attempt to preserve some of our fond memories of The Nutcracker, I wrote and illustrated a picture book about Kepley’s first role—The Nutcracker Doll. It was impossible to truly convey the complex and multi-layered beauty of the ballet, but I think that may students and ‘alumni’ of the production will remember the thrill, excitement, and joy of performing with the Boston Ballet while reading it.

Kepley and I are grateful for the opportunities she had to perform in many magical Nutcrackers, and we hope that our book will inspire young ballerinas and audience members alike. The Nutcracker Doll is available in bookstores, and when purchased at the Boston Ballet Boutique, sales benefit the Ballet. --MND


Adorable ballerina notecards (blank inside) are available at my CafePress store, The Strange Egg Shop