‘The Nutcracker: Clara’s Dream’ enchants sold-out crowds

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The Wallace State Community College Dance program’s Allegro Dance Theatre helped usher in the holiday season this past weekend with two sold-out performances of “The Nutcracker- Clara’s Dream.” (Vincent Desnoës)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – The Wallace State Community College (WSCC) Dance program’s Allegro Dance Theatre helped usher in the holiday season this past weekend with two sold-out performances of “The Nutcracker- Clara’s Dream.” The first production of its kind from the WSCC Dance program was directed and choreographed by Brooke Desnoës, with Ricky Burks directing the music.

Everything about this production was magical. The dancing was superb and the costumes were exquisite. The sets and amazing music, performed live, took the audience along as Clara to “the Land of the Sweets” in her dream.

“This is our first production of what we hope will become an annual celebration of community and youthful imagination,” WSCC President Dr. Vicki Karolewics said in a letter in the production’s playbill. “It is our pleasure to bring families and friends together during the holiday season while providing an opportunity for dancers of all ages to share the stage in one of the most celebrated ballets of the 20th century.”

The WSCC Saxophone Quartet, under the direction of Burks, took the adored music from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” and flawlessly delivered the foundation of the production. The quartet is made up of Jacob Keisler, Nathan Berryhill, Jason Lipscomb and Sara Lipscomb.

In Clara’s dream, she is guided by her uncle, who gave her the Nutcracker, and by the Snow King and Queen to the Land of the Sweets. They are greeted by angels and The Sugar Plum Fairy as they celebrate with dancing sweets from all over the world. Spanish Hot Chocolate, Russian Candy Canes, Arabian Coffee, Chinese Tea, French Mirlitons, Mother Ginger and the Candy Clowns, and the Dew Drop Fairy and her flowers all participate in the dreamy celebration. When Clara finally awakes with the Nutcracker, it is Christmas morning.

“It was charming. It was beautiful. It was magical,” raved audience member Ben Johnson South. “When it opened up and the set had snow coming down, I felt my tear ducts acting up because it was so beautiful. The live band was awesome!”

Desnoës said of the production and the younger dancers who accompanied the WSCC dancers, “We held auditions and they came from all over. They drove every week for eight Saturdays and almost every night this week for rehearsals.”

Desnoës choreographed most of the dances but also used original choreography.

She added, “Normally, it (‘The Nutcracker’) is something they come in knowing, but since it’s the first year we did it, not so much.”

The costumes used belong to Desnoës after many years running her dance school in Paris.

She said, “There’s a former Bolshoi dancer who has opened her own costume shop and they are all handmade.”

Desnoës was blown away with the attendance and support for the first-year production.

“That was the biggest shock,” she said. “I am so happy about it and surprised. I was preparing the kids, saying, ‘Now there might not be too many people.’ Then they came and said, ‘We have a delay. They are standing outside. There’s a line.’ I said ‘What? Are you sure?’ I was not expecting that.”

Allegro Dance Company members include Chloe Carter, Marigrace Dunn, Haley Greatorex, Elizabeth Griffith, Lacey Johnson, Nicholas Smith, Brooke Leigh Sinyard, Breanna Turner and Isaiah Washington.

Community cast members included Salter Clark, Eglantine Desnoës, Sidonie Desnoës, Madalynn Giles, Alyson Graves, Laurie Ann Hadley, Ellen Harbison, Kindred Herrera, Lily Howze, Laney Hulsey, Makenzie Johnson, Stephan Little, Marlee Marks, Avery Mayo, Bella McBrayer, Chloe McCrorie, Lexi Myrex, Natalie Myrex, Bella Pipes, Mary Claire Ray, Evelyn Riggs, Livia Riggs, Madeline Riggs, Samanta Rogers, Caroline Sanders, Tessa Sanders, Logan Schuman, Amelia Self, Lydia Smith, Anna Sutherland, Aaliyah Taylor, Rylee Taylor, Skye Tipton, Alison White, Marianna Willoughby and Sadie Wood.

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com