After an unwelcome hiatus last winter, professional dancers and students are delighted to once again honor the Beckley stage this year with the 32nd season of “The Nutcracker”.
“It’s just great to be back in the theater,” said Jerry Rose, artistic director of Beckley Dance Theater. “And I’m not alone. Thousands of theater people across the country are back. … The show must go on, and it continues in Beckley and around the world.
“We’re happy to be back and the response has been so wonderful,” said Rose.
Even the financial support has been excellent, Rose said, explaining that the production relies on local contributions, not grants, to bring world-class professional dancers, sets and costumes to the Beckley stage. This year, some of these guest artists come from as far away as Canada.
Erina Tanaka, who recently retired from the Jorgen Ballet of Canada, will perform the role of the Sugar Plum fairy. The role of his Cavalier will be performed by Skyler Campbell, Principal Dancer of the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto.
“We’re so happy to have them,” said Rose, explaining that the contacts came from a network of friends in the dance world, including Brian Murphy of The Verb Ballets in Cleveland, who will appear as Drosselmeyer, the eccentric creator. of Clara’s beloved. nutcracker doll and the character who moves the story forward when he presents the unusual gift at Clara’s family Christmas party.
Other professional ballet companies will join the cast, along with a few locally known names including Alyssa Young, Lisa West Meadows (who will also dance the role of Sugar Plum Fairy in school performances) and former West Virginia Dance performers. Company Donald Laney, Aymen Robertson and Forrest Hershey.
This year, the coveted roles of Clara and Fritz will be shared by several students, giving dancers who hold them the opportunity to perform in some of the advanced pieces of ballet, such as “Snow” and “Flowers,” on the nights they are held. are I don’t play like Clara and Fritz.
“That way they get the best of both worlds,” Rose said.
On Friday, Clara will be played by Ella Hopkins and Fritz by Daniella Fragile. Saturday will star Delaney Hanes as Clara and Kendall Ford as Fritz. And on Sunday, Raegan Wood will play Clara and Lucy Bickey will be Fritz.
“The good thing is that I love that my dancers are working with all of these professionals,” Rose said. “So they see that they are just real people like all of us. They are no different. They take lessons with them and warm up with them. They see them work in rehearsal and gain first-hand knowledge of what a professional dancer is. Here we are at the top of our field, working with these world class artists. “
The ballet – set to music by a Russian composer, based on a French version of a story by a German author – tells the story of Clara and her beloved Nutcracker Prince. Clara is devastated when her brother, Fritz, breaks his new toy at the party, but Drosselmeyer magically repairs the doll, and Clara later falls asleep with her under her family’s Christmas tree. That’s when she dreams of her nutcracker prince fighting an army of gift-stealing mice. With the help of a few tin soldiers and Clara, the Nutcracker Prince defeats their evil Mouse King.
The first act shows young dancers and their audiences what life would have been like in German society in the 1890s.
“It takes everyone to another era. It goes back in time, ”said Rose.
It is not only a lesson in culture and history for the dancers and their audience, it is an annual springboard for young ballerinas. They start out as angels and progress to being toy soldiers, then onto the party stage and beyond. By the time they reach the entertainments of the second act – dances known by names such as “Tea”, “Arabian” and “Marzipan” among others – the dancers transport themselves and their audience not only back in time, but also to other worlds.
After the Mouse King is defeated, the Nutcracker Prince takes Clara on an adventure through a snowy and magical Russian forest to Candy Land. This is where the Sugar Plum fairy offers them a cultural showcase of dancing candies from around the world.
“Ethnic dances are the grandfather of all classical dances,” Rose said. “I have always been fascinated by other cultures. That’s one of the reasons I like the second act. Each of these dances gives me the opportunity to show children the contributions of other cultures.
The dances throughout the second act depict foreign delicacies, rare treats from far away lands – chocolate from Spain, tea from China, coffee from Arabia, Russian dolls dressed in candy canes, chocolate paste. sweet Danish almond, even gingerbread kids popping out from under their mother’s skirt. , depicting a similarly shaped candy box well known in 1890s Russia.
Back in Clara’s day, these foods would have been really special – much like the “Nutcracker” tradition is for this community, Rose said.
The curtain opens at the Woodrow Wilson High School auditorium on Friday December 3 and Saturday December 4 at 7 p.m. and December 5 at 2:30 p.m. All seats are $ 15 and tickets can be purchased at the advance via Beckley. Dance-theater school. The public is also invited to see a traveling version of the show at the Greenbrier on December 29 at 7:30 p.m. and December 30 at 11 a.m. Call the Greenbrier for more information.