This year’s performance of “The Nutcracker” by the Southeast Alabama Dance Company will have some new twists.
“We have an all new Act II,” said Ashlie Wells, the company’s artistic director.
For those who have never seen the famous ballet, the first half of the production takes place during a Christmas party where gifts are presented to the children in attendance. Clara receives a nutcracker, which magically comes to life later that night. A fierce battle with mice ensues and after the nutcracker kills the Mouse King, the nutcracker becomes a prince.
In Act II, Clara and the prince travel to the Land of Sweets where they are greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier along with a score of others, including Spanish, Chinese, Arabian, Russian and Danish dancers.
“The Nutcracker” is based on the E.T.A. Hoffman book, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” The ballet premiered on Dec. 17, 1892, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Choreographer Marius Petipa commissioned Tchaikovsky to write the music for the ballet. Tchaikovsky died nearly a year after the premiere. The first American version of the ballet was performed by the San Francisco Ballet in 1944.
This is the 37th year that the Southeast Alabama Dance Company has performed “The Nutcracker” ballet for audiences.
The dance company has used guest artists in the past for roles like Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier. But this year, the dance company had an Atlanta choreographer, Kassandra Taylor Newberry, develop a new Act II.
“It is brilliant,” Wells said. “It is so fun and clever. She’s added a twist – a humorous twist.”
Dancers with the company said they love the changes to the production.
“I am just ecstatic,” said dancer Caitlin Tagliareni, 22, who is performing the Spanish dance. “Honestly, this is my all-time favorite that I’ve done.”
Mary Hinson Mims, 15, is dancing the role of Clara and said working with Newberry challenged the dancers.
“Adapting to her different styles has been a challenge, but it’s been really fun,” she said.
Those who love the ballet will recognize the additions that appear in the different dance numbers such as the Arabian dance, the Russian dance and the Chinese dance.
“For those of us who have been doing it for almost 40 years, it is so fresh, innovative,” Wells said. “It’s fun to watch.”