Cristina Munro, pictured with her daughter, Alexandra Trevino, celebrates her 30th year as the artistic director for Corpus Christi Ballet’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.”
"I’ve always wanted to dance,” said Cristina Munro, who celebrates her 30th year as the artistic director for Corpus Christi Ballet’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.”
But Munro’s not the only one celebrating. The holiday classic is observing a special anniversary of its own — 2014 marks the 40th year of “The Nutcracker” in Corpus Christi.
Munro says that, despite producing the performance year after year, it never gets old. The cast is always changing and evolving as 5-year-old cherubs become 6-year-old angels, the young dancers later reaching larger and more prominent roles as they get older.
Munro, who also owns Munro Ballet Studios on Everhart Road, has seen countless Corpus Christi children come through her studio; tottering 3-year-olds who grow and mature before her very eyes. She enjoys seeing how her guidance has positively impacted so many.
“It’s very rewarding to feel like you’re having a good influence on people’s lives,” said Munro, who deems her work as an instructor one of her greatest accomplishments.
And Munro has certainly accomplished a lot.
Upon graduating from the Arts Educational School in London, England, Munro joined the Sadler’s Wells Opera Ballet and later the Dutch National Ballet in Holland. From there, Munro returned to her home in England, performing in a production of “Sleeping Beauty” with ballet great Margot Fonteyn. Munro continued to dance with the London Festival Ballet for nine years.
As a dancer, Munro toured all around Europe, Asia, South America and even Soviet countries behind the Iron Curtain. In 1968, she met Eliot Feld, an American who came to England to choreograph a ballet. He invited her to come back to America to be a founding member in a new ballet company he was starting. So Munro found herself in New York City.
Throughout the years, Munro has collected her fair share of fascinating tales from dancing all over the world.
“Oh, [I have] lots of stories…Couldn’t get to the theater because there was a transportation strike and we had to hitch a ride with the garbage truck to the theater,” Munro fondly remembers. Another time, the entire ballet company boarded a first class airplane to get to a show.
“So we go down the runway and suddenly, one of the engines bursts into flames!” Munro recalls. “[The plane] comes to a screeching halt, the ambulances come, the stewardess has hysterics and all the food slops down the aisle.”
And then, of course, there was her friendship with the Beatles.
Munro and her fellow dancers would go out to eat at night after performances, and they always gravitated to this one particular spot — one of the few places still open at that late hour. It was there that she got to know the Fab Four, who often played shows there.
“They were very young and very silly,” Munro said of the Beatles. “It was before they did the Sullivan show. We went to their performances and when we went on tour in Liverpool, they would come to ours. They were fun friends. Just crazy, fun friends.”
After living in New York, Munro moved to a few other places before finding herself in Corpus Christi and settling down. It’s here where she has raised two kids — her two greatest productions, she states proudly. Another thing she’s proud of is the city she now calls home.
“There’s a lot of talented people here. For a small city, we have a symphony, a theater, ballet companies, we have lots of art, lots of vocal stuff. A lot of cities don’t have as much as we do.”
As she makes the final preparations for her upcoming holiday production, Munro encourages the community to come out and support the local arts.
“If anybody has a child that has never been to the theater, this is the moment to give them some exposure,” she says. “And if adults haven’t been to ‘The Nutcracker,’ they need to come and have a wonderful experience and realize that it’s not just pretty tutus. It’s a fun, theatrical experience that everybody can enjoy.”
By Meredith Stein
Family Weekend (1/2 price tickets from $6.50-$16.50):
- Saturday, Dec.13 at 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 14 at 3:00 p.m.
Gala Performances ($11.50-$31.50):
- Saturday, Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Dec. 21st at 3:00 p.m.