LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Annie Honebrink has been with the Louisville Ballet since 2010. As a company dancer, Honebrink has performed in a wide variety of ballets including the Brown-Forman Nutcracker, in which she has danced the part of Marie seven times. This year’s edition of the Brown-Forman Nutcracker will be Honebrink’s eighth time dancing the part of Marie, but an injury from last season has made for a more intense preparation this year. Honebrink took some time out of her busy rehearsal schedule to speak with us about the balancing act of performing one of Louisville Ballet’s most iconic roles. Here’s what she had to say:

PUTTING IN THE WORK This year has taken quite a bit of extra preparation. I broke my foot last season and this will be my first time performing since the injury. In addition to the many hours of rehearsal for the role, I have spent lots of time at KORT for physical therapy, in the pool at Milestone Wellness, on the reformer and on my living room floor with a theraband and other rehab tools. This is my eighth year dancing this role, and every few years I re-read E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker for renewed inspiration—this is one of those years! In some ways I have been preparing for this role since I was a very small child. I used to dance and act out the entire Nutcracker ballet in the living room—complete with costume changes.

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Honebrink as Marie rehearsing for the Brown-Forman Nutcracker. Photo courtesy Sam English.

FAMILY TIME An ideal day off would consist of a long walk outside (preferably in a cemetery), plenty of time to read and write, a visit to the Speed Art Museum, a trip to Nancy’s Bagels, FaceTime with my long-distance fiancé, Keith, playing make believe with my niece, coloring while watching Murder She Wrote and soft serve ice cream. More often than not my weekends include typical chores and errands, catching up on my online humanities class, checking off my endless to-do list, and visiting family in Cincinnati. Recently I enjoyed a magical visit with my three-year-old niece. She came to the ballet studio with me while I rehearsed and she danced alongside me. It was one of the sweetest moments I have ever experienced.

When Keith and I are in the same city, we enjoy making up exciting, complicated adventures for each other. His latest one took me all over the city and included three codes to decipher and one epic Nerf gun battle. We love spending time outdoors in nature as well as five dollar Tuesdays at the movie theater.

My Sundays are focused on church and family. I currently serve in the nursery at my church, and spending time with the children is a wonderful way to start my week and center my priorities. I like to spend extra time calling Keith, family members and friends.

HOLIDAY SPIRIT I love the holidays, and they certainly are a driving force in how I spend my free time. During fall I seek out pumpkin patches and make my Halloween costume. During December I will be making ornaments for my cousins, driving around looking at light displays and putting the finishing touches on my decorations. One of my favorite holiday traditions is the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo. Last year it was so cold we ran the entire time!

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Honebrink getting in the Christmas spirit at the Louisville Ballet studios. She will be dancing the part of Marie in this year's Brown-Forman Nutcracker, her eighth time performing the role.

BALANCING ACT I am a morning person and a night owl. If I could figure out how to function without sleep I would! While I prefer my mornings, some of my hobbies—such as writing—take me into the late hours of night. In my free time I juggle between the introvert and extrovert sides of myself. I enjoy staying close to family and friends, but I also crave walks alone and quiet time to work on a puzzle (perhaps with a Star Wars movie in the background).

I have an obsessive personality, and if I allowed myself I would be focused on ballet constantly. I am grateful to my parents who taught me the importance of balance in my early years of dancing. I do spend a good deal of time reviewing choreography and keeping up with stretches and exercises to assist my dancing; however, I have found that I need to be able to step away from it all as well. I appreciate girls’ nights where we stay up laughing and eating Oreos until midnight. I love sledding and ice skating in the winter (after Nutcracker, of course). I need other mediums of art to feed and inspire my soul and my own artistry—writing, visiting art museums, attending plays, etcetera. There are so many wonderful people to connect with and worthwhile dreams to pursue—it is difficult to balance them all while keeping up with the laundry! Thankfully I have many incredible people in my life who help me and love me along the way.

You can follow Honebrink’s blog, Stage + Studio, and learn more about upcoming productions at louisvilleballet.org/backstage/. The 2018 Brown-Forman Nutcracker opens Saturday, December 8, at 1:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall and runs through Sunday, December 23. For more information on show times and tickets visit kentuckycenter.org/nutcracker.

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Honebrink outside the Louisville Ballet studios on East Main Street in Downtown Louisville. Rehearsals are underway for the 2018 Brown-Forman Nutcracker, which opens Saturday, December 8, at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.