The Carrollton Center for the Arts presents “The Nutcracker” ballet to celebrate the holiday season. The production starts on Nov. 17 with an abridged school field trip matinee, and the full production premieres that evening at 7 p.m. There will be four full-length shows in total from Friday, Nov. 17 to Sunday, Nov. 19.
The ballet follows the classic tale of a young girl, Clara, who receives a nutcracker from her uncle at her family’s annual Christmas Eve party. When she falls asleep after the party, she dreams of a battle with the Rat King and adventures with a handsome prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. However, this year, the production will feature a few new additions.
“This year, we are so excited to premiere our Spun Sugar variation, a dance in the second act that is not only brand new choreography and character but also includes a rare, historical piece of music,” said Brii Tyson, the production’s director.
The ballet’s composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, originally wrote the musical piece to be part of The Nutcracker but ultimately discarded it before the final version of the ballet’s completion in 1892. The production team at the Carrollton Center for the Arts was lucky that the Tchaikovsky Foundation preserved this rarely-recorded English Gigue and that they were able to get access to it.
In addition to the new music and choreography, this year’s production will include other additions.
“We have a brand new party dress for the main character, Clara, that our costume master, Craig Jones, designed and handmade,” said Tyson. “We also have a brand new hand-painted backdrop and set for our Land of Sweets scene in the second act of the ballet.”
With all these new additions, one would assume that the preparation process would be more extensive. However, the preparations are the same as they have always been.
“Our preparations for The Nutcracker Ballet are ongoing throughout the year,” said Tyson. “Our first pre-production meeting is usually in early spring, and we typically have 2 to 3 meetings before auditions in August.”
The entire production team attends these meetings, and they allow them to plan any new additions to the show, like the new choreography and costume for Clara. The meetings also allow the production team to discuss administrative tasks like volunteer coordination and budgeting.
The preparation process is essential, but a production is nothing without its players. So, the audition and casting process is just as significant, if not more, as preparation.
“Auditions take place mid-August spanning a weekend,” said Tyson. “All casting is determined via the audition process, which is open to the community and all ages five and older.
“Auditions are essentially an abbreviated ballet class to identify technical ability and special skills, as well as an open division from those who wish to participate but do not have ballet experience,” continued Tyson.
Two weeks after auditions, rehearsals begin and continue every weekend leading up to the performance, except for Labor Day weekend and Carrollton Arts Fest weekend in October. Now, the cast and production team’s dedication, effort, and talent will pay off as the performances kick off this weekend.